When the 2021-22 NBA season ended, 27-year-old Nikola Jokic was named the NBA MVP for the second straight year. The Denver Nuggets’ center played 74 games in 2022. Jokic scored an average of 27.1 points per game on 33.5 minutes per game. HIs .583 field goal percentage was among the best in the league. The two-time MVP added an average of 7.9 assists per game.
As the 2023 NBA season hits its halfway mark, it looks as if Jokic has a legitimate chance to become the first player since Larry Bird to win the award three times in a row. The Boston Celtics star won the MVP in 1984, ’85 and ’86. Bird, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlin are the only players to win three-straight NBA MVP awards.
Since Bird’s three-peat, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James (2x), Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all won back-to-back NBA MVP awards, but none won three in a row.
Jokic is not a lock for the award at the end of the 2023 NBA season. He is feeling heat from Luka Doncic. Doncic has not won the NBA MVP, but he has been in the running for the past three years. He finished in fourth place in votes in 2020, sixth in 2021 and fifth at the end of last season.
2023 NBA MVP picks
|To Win 2023 NBA MVP|
Nikola Jokic is once again having an MVP-caliber year for the Denver Nuggets. The 27-year-old center is averaging 24.9 points, 11 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game. His points are down from a career-high of 27.1 last season, as are his rebounds down from 13.8. However, his assists are currently the highest of his career as is his 61.8 field goal percentage.
Jokic has the Nuggets in first place in the Western Conference with a 28-13 record. The team also has a fantastic 18-3 record at home.
Jokic recently became the first NBA player to put up a 15-plus assist triple-double with no missed field goals.
Will 2023 be the NBA season where Luka Doncic breaks through and wins his first MVP award? Right now, he is one of the favorites to win the award, so there is a better-than-average chance he will finish the season as the top vote-getter.
The 23-year-old point guard is currently the NBA scoring leader with 34.3 points per game. He also contributes nine rebounds and 8.8 assists to the Dallas Mavericks offense per outing. Doncic’s scoring numbers are an improvement from last season’s points total of 28.4 and also better than his career-high of 28.8 in 2020. In addition, Doncic is hitting more than 50 percent of his field goals for the first time in his NBA career and having a career year in converting his three-point attempts. He is also up more than two minutes of playing time per game in 2023, with an average of 37.5.
The Mavericks, who are in third place in the Southwest Division and fourth in the Western Conference, opened 2023 with seven straight wins.
Jayson Tatum is having a great 2023 season with the Boston Celtics. The team is in first place in the NBA with a 31-12 record and a three-game lead over the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets. The 24-year-old Tatum leads the club in points, rebounds and minutes played.
The knock against Tatum is the depth of the Celtics. In addition to Tatum, Boston has Jaylen Brown scoring 27.2 points per game and two of the better defensive players in the game in Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III.
Tatum is a fantastic player, but he’s going to need to do something spectacular to steal votes from Doncic and Jokic.
NBA MVP voters have been reluctant to award a player three MVPs in a row since Bird accomplished the feat. That’s one reason I might shy away from picking Jokic for the 2023 NBA MVP award. If Doncic finishes the season as well as he is currently playing, I think he will be the pick to the win the MVP. With Jokic having a little more offensive support (and two previous MVP awards) on his side, the best bet at the halfway point of the 2023 NBA season is to pick Luka Doncic to win the 2023 NBA MVP award.
Pick: Luka Doncic to win the 2023 NBA MVP.
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