The second half of the NBA season has just begun, but let’s take some time to appreciate and grace the NBA for a splendid first half. This league has seen some notable headlines through the first half of the season, most notably King LeBron James breaking the all-time scoring record previously held by Kareem “The Dream” Abdul-Jabbar.
Other headlines include the Sacramento Kings actually winning ball games with their dynamic guard-forward tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. The Kings now look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
But let’s not also forget the historic failure of the Brooklyn Nets’ organization after losing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in 2022-2023. Cue Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn Go Hard.”
The Celtics also appear to present a legitimate threat of heading back to the NBA Finals after stellar play so far from Jayson Tatum and Cal alum Jaylen Brown in the first half of the 2022-2023 season. Cue Dropkick Murphys’ pub classic, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”
There have been headlines all around the league in 2022-2023, but it’s time to cut to the chase: Here are my midseason NBA awards for the 2022-2023 season.
Most valuable player: Nikola Jokic
If the other records outside of LeBron James’ scoring record remain in the balance this season, will Jokic win his third consecutive MVP award? The Serbian big man has consistently been an all-around threat and looks set to grab his third MVP award. This unicorn of a player is averaging a triple-double this season with 24.8 points, 11.7 rebounds and 10 assists per game. Most importantly, the “Joker” is leading his team with the best record in the Western Conference.
Rookie of the year: Paolo Banchero
The 2022 first-overall pick has lived up to his early draft price — Banchero is absolutely balling in his first year. He is averaging 19.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The former Duke star is a talented scorer and is poised to be one of the best players for years to come despite being only 20 years old.
Coach of the year: Joe Mazzulla
Honorable Mention: J.B Bickerstaff
Coming into 2022-2023, nobody expected Mazzulla to be leading the helm for the Boston Celtics. Mazzulla took over for former Celtics coach, Ime Udoka, who was suspended for multiple policy violations, including allegedly having an inappropriate relationship within the Celtics organization. The Celtics have also seen their guards, Tatum and Brown, play some of their best basketball together since Mazzulla took over. Mazzulla is only 34 years old, but despite his youth has coached the Celtics to one of the best records in the NBA.
Most improved player of the year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Honorable Mention: Lauri Markkanen
Gilegous-Alexander (SGA) is one of the most dynamic players in the league, but this year he’s taken his game to the next level. He’s a fantasy basketball owner’s dream: This season he’s averaging 31 points per game, with an average of 5.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds. On top of that, SGA also has some of the best drip in the league. The 24-year-old is a superstar in the making.
Defensive player of the year: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Honorable Mention: Nic Claxton
Jackson Jr. has been a blocking machine this year, averaging 3.2 blocks per game. Triple J has over 136 blocks this season in total. He’s a defensive menace — the grit and grind mentality of Memphis loves Jackson Jr.
Sixth man of the year: Tyrese Maxey
There hasn’t been one standout candidate for this award yet, but Maxey is the leading favorite. Maxey has been balling this year with 19.5 points per game. He’d be a starting point guard for most NBA teams, and Maxey is a certified bucket.
Overall, there are still over 20 games left remaining this season. A lot can happen, so don’t set these awards in stone just yet. Many questions still remain to be answered — such as whether the Joker will win his third straight MVP.