The 2022-23 NBA season is full steam ahead and we already have early front runners for the awards. The MVP award is the best race to watch and there are some familiar names in the race. As far as the Rookie of the Year award, this year’s class has some legit talent and it could be a good race as well. The Most Improved Player award is one that can change at any time so that will be the most unpredictable award at this point.
As of now, there are two or three candidates for each award. This list of players are ones that are standing above the entire league for this respective award. So, with all of that, let’s get into who I think are the front runners for each NBA award for the 2022-23 season thus far.
Most Improved Player
This award changes hands almost weekly. The Most Improved Player award is one that goes to a player who takes that step from a role player to a high value piece of a roster. This award is so unpredictable because of injuries and trades and all the drama that can happen in an NBA season. There is only one player that is standing out so far but again, that can change by next month.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trailblazers– The Most Improved Player award can change many times before even the all star break. It is unpredictable but that also can make the race for the award even better. Simons has become the starting guard alongside Damian Lillard for the Blazers. He jumped from 7.8 ppg to 17.3 ppg in just one season. Simons has shown the ability to lead the Blazers while Lillard has been out with injuries. Simons should be the only front runner here with how he is performing in his new and improved role.
Sixth Man Of The Year
This award typically goes a guy that is a huge producer in scoring. Having a bench player that can come into the game with the second unit and score immediately, is a valuable piece to a successful team. Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford practically owned this award for years but now we have a new set of bucket getters.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors– Poole is at the top of my list for Sixth Man of the Year. Poole has become a vital piece to the Warriors team overall. From his scoring abilities to his ability to run the fast break, he is the ideal sixth man. The Warriors are usually known for only Steph Curry and Klay Thompson but now they have a new guy that could eventually take over the franchise once Steph calls it quits.
Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics– Brogdon was an absolute steal for the Celtics. Brogdon brings triple double abilities off the bench and eventually could be the starting point guard. Until he starts, Brogdon’s ability to facilitate on offense and score at a high level makes him an elite sixth man. The Celtics are already a contender and now they have Brogdon to try and get them back to the NBA title series.
Defensive Player Of The Year
This award is one that has lost its luster mostly because the NBA barely has defense. Guys like Rudy Gobert and Giannis have set the standard for this award. However, with Marcus Smart winning the award last year, it is clear the league is starting to recognizing some of the better perimeter defenders and not just the paint beasts. That being said, this award will one of the more quiet awards and not have much excitement.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks— Giannis could easily win an MVP and DPOY if he plays enough games. Giannis has become one of the best defenders in the NBA both on the perimeter and in the paint. He has won this award before and that should surprise no one. If he does not put his name in for MVP, look for the Greek Freak to be a front runner for DPOY once again.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat– The only other candidate that stands out right now is Bam Adebayo. He is another player that has the ability to guard every position on the floor. He is on the cusp of becoming a special player for the Heat and maybe this year he takes home some hardware. The Heat have been dealing with injuries so far but if they can get healthy, Adebayo is a key piece to their defensive presence overall.
Coach Of The Year
To win Coach of the Year it takes either a franchise shifting season or coaching a team that is already good and getting them a title. Guys like Steve Kerr or Monty Williams always come to mind but this year I think we will see a new face. There are new coaches taking teams to new heights and that needs to be recognized.
Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics— The front runner for Coach of the Year should be Joe Mazzulla. Despite all the drama with Ime Udoka and Robert Williams getting hurt, the Celtics are an NBA best 18-4 overall. Mazzulla has taken the Celtics coaching job and turned it into a successful start to a season. If the Celtics can continue winning, they could definitely be playing for the NBA title.
Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings– Mike Brown came to Sacramento with one task, win more games. So far, the Kings are sitting just below a playoff spot and that is a good place to begin the season. For over a decade and a half the Kings have struggled to find the right coach, scheme, and players. If Mike Brown can take this roster to the playoffs, he will easily be someone who deserves this award.
Most Valuable Player Award
The biggest award of them all, the MVP award. Nikola Jokic has won the previous two MVP’s and Giannis won the two before that. The gold standard of the NBA MVP award is one that takes their team to the next level. Giannis brought a title to Milwaukee and Jokic turned the Nuggets into contenders. This years MVP race has some familiar names but not previous MVP’s that we have seen.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks– Luka Doncic has become a household name in the NBA and rightfully so. Doncic is coming off a Western Conference Finals run and never fails to light up the stat book. Despite the Mavericks getting Christian Wood, Luka is still the only true superstar on the team. If Luka can keep the Mavericks in a playoff spot and maintain his 33 points, eight rebounds, and eight assist stat line, he could finally win the award.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers– This is a safe pick considering Embiid is once again putting up a near triple double every night. Embiid has fallen short of an MVP basically two years in a row to Nikola Jokic. Someone who scores 30 a night, grabs nearly every rebound, and plays stellar defense is worthy of the MVP. The Sixers just have to figure out their identity with their loaded roster.