NBA awards finalists: Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Embiid on MVP shortlist

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Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is one step closer to joining elite company. 

The NBA announced the finalists for all the league’s regular-season awards, including the highly-debated NBA MVP award, and Jokic, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid are on the shortlist. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. 

If Jokic were to win his third consecutive MVP, he would join Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Larry Bird as the only players in NBA history to win three straight Most Valuable Player awards. 

One thing is for certain, however: An international player will win the MVP award for the fifth season in a row, following Antetokounmpo (2019, 2020) and Jokic (2021, 2022). Embiid is going for his first MVP.

‘This is going to be the closest ever vote, in my opinion,’ Charles Barkley said after all finalists were announced on the TNT broadcast ahead of the final two play-in games.

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Award results are based on votes from an international panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Here’s all the finalists for all the regular-season awards – including rookie of the year, most improved, sixth man, defensive player of the year and clutch player of the year–followed by USA TODAY Sports pick for the winner.

MVP award

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

3. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Our pick: Nikola Jokic

Rookie of the Year

1. Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic

2. Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz

3. Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Our pick: Paolo Banchero

Most Improved Player of the Year

1. Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks

2. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

3. Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz

Our pick: Lauri Markkanen

Clutch Player of the Year

1. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

2. DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls

3. De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

Our pick: De’Aaron Fox

Sixth Man of the Year

1. Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics

2. Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks

2. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

Our pick: Malcolm Brogdon

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis

2.  Brook Lopez, Milwaukee

3. Evan Mobley, Cleveland 

Our pick: Jaren Jackson, Jr.

Coach of the Year

1. Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings

2. Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma Thunder

3. Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics

Our pick: Mike Brown

This post appeared first on USA TODAY