Justin LaCertosa’s Way-Too-Early NBA MVP Ladder

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Justin LaCertosa’s Way-Too-Early NBA MVP Ladder


Justin LaCertosa’s Way-Too-Early NBA MVP Ladder


Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Most Valuable Player trophy is awarded to the association’s best and most impactful player from the regular season. The past few winners make up some of the best players to ever play the game. This list includes the likes of Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Stephen Curry, all first-ballot Hall of Famers and generational talents. It’s almost a certainty that we will see a new MVP winner this season with Jokic going back-to-back, receiving the inevitable “voter fatigue”. However, you can never count out one of these former MVPs to win the award once again. With that being said, here is my way-too-early MVP ladder going into the season.


1- Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Luka Doncic has been an early pre-season pick for MVP the past few seasons but has never ended up as a true candidate to win the award. However, this season, expect Doncic to take the leap to be a true MVP candidate. Doncic has always had the pure talent to win the award, and he’s always put up the stats to be considered, but other players have simply played better regular season basketball. Doncic is in the perfect position to surpass all those guys while making a minor statistical leap in the process.

The Mavericks are going into this upcoming season as quite possibly the most underrated team in the league. Losing guard Jalen Brunson is a big loss, but you could argue they’ve only gotten better. Christian Wood forms a perfect guard-big tandem with Doncic due to his ability to space the floor, catch lobs, and create for himself. JaVale McGee was added to provide another pick-and-roll presence as well as an inside guy, and Spencer Dinwiddie should only get better after his up and down season with an increased role. Not only that, but Tim Hardaway Jr. will be healthy, and Josh Green should be able to carve himself a role in the offense.

Doncic has a lot to work with on the offensive end, with complimentary pieces to take pressure off of him. Dallas could quietly end up being a regular season juggernaut, with Doncic putting up a stat line of 29-30 points per game while grabbing eight to nine rebounds and dishing out 10 assists per contest. Doncic is in a prime position to run away with his first MVP award and should be a constant at the top of these ladders.


2- Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Joel Embiid has been on the cusp of winning the MVP award two years in a row but has always been outclassed by another player. Embiid is in the prime of his career, and it almost seems inevitable that he’ll find his way to the top once again. 

Due to the way Embiid has played the past two seasons, he has a reputation league-wide as an MVP-caliber player. Philadelphia has assembled the best roster they’ve had in the Embiid era, and with James Harden working harder than ever to get back into prime shape, Philadelphia could very easily snag the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid will likely put up similar statistics as the past few years. Expect him to continue to sit atop the league in scoring, while pulling down 10-plus rebounds and continuing his passing development. Philadelphia will have the wins, and with guys like Jokic and Antetokounmpo having voter fatigue, voters will likely lean towards Embiid to win his first MVP trophy.


3- Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

Despite winning the NBA Championship Game and Finals MVP, Stephen Curry did not have one of his more memorable regular seasons. Coming off of one of the most efficient scoring seasons in league history, injuries derailed Curry in the 2021-2022 regular season leading to one of the most inefficient seasons of his entire career. When the two-time MVP got healthy come playoff time, he showed the world that he’s still the same “Chef Curry” we’ve always known.

Going into next season fully healthy, expect Curry to start off firing on all cylinders. Two seasons ago, Curry had arguably the greatest season of his Hall of Fame career. Last season, before the injuries, he was the MVP front-runner. Golden State will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, and Curry will continue to be the engine of this well-oiled machine. Expect Golden State to take a top seed once again, and for Curry to have yet another historic offensive season.


4- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Year by year, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the league’s most dominant player, and there’s no reason for that to change next season. The Bucks were another team derailed by injuries last regular season, and if healthy, they could’ve easily snagged the number one seed. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are hard to beat in any game, and with Antetokounmpo’s pure dominance combined with the elite supporting cast around him, Milwaukee should be an easy pick to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference next season.

Antetokounmpo will be putting up his normal, monstrous stat-line yet again. He’s able to score at will due to his combination of physical attributes, finishing, and length. He may not be one of the more skilled scorers in the game, however, he’s still able to put up 30 points per game year in, year out. His playmaking vastly improved last year, and there’s no reason for that to slow down any time soon. On the other end, he’s the best defender in basketball, and can easily make another run at the Defensive Player of the Year award this season. Antetokounmpo has been a constant in MVP talks for the past five years, and there’s absolutely no reason for that to change once again.


5- Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)

If it wasn’t for a long rough patch to start last season, Jayson Tatum would’ve likely been an MVP front-runner. Throughout the year, Tatum was able to play into shape, getting better game by game. This has been a common trend for Tatum throughout his career, as he’s consistently gotten better as the season goes on, rather than starting the season guns blazing. 

However, next season, expect Tatum to start off quick for the first time in his career. At this point, he’s seen it all. He’s had to adjust to playoff defenses multiple times, so starting off the season hot should be no problem. Expect Tatum to average around 28 points per game, while grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out somewhere near six assists.


The Next Five-

Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)

LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)

Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)

Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)


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