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2022-23 NBA regular season award predictions: Experts' picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player

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NBA basketball is a team sport, but it’s rare that one person can make an incredible difference. Aaron Judge can only get to the plate four or five times per game. Patrick Mahomes has no one to throw if his receivers can’t be opened. (And he doesn’t play defense.) But in the NBA, a single player can dominate parts of the game, which is why superstars have so much power and are rewarded with such lucrative salaries.

Entering the 2022-23 season, all prize races have multiple plausible candidates, including MVP. Many think Nikola Jokic won’t be able to win a third season in a row due to voter fatigue, but that could easily change if he leads the Denver Nuggets to the #1 seed in a stacked Western Conference. Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers has been a bridesmaid in each of the last two seasons, so she’s a logical candidate to win the award this year, but will face stiff competition from the two players we’ve come to expect, and at least a few dark players. horses appearing out of nowhere.

The Rookie of the Year usually falls into the category where talented young players get the most opportunities, but that could be any number of freshmen this season – especially since winning isn’t exactly a priority for most teams. It would be really interesting to see if it leads to a battle between the season’s #1 pick Paolo Banchero and runner-up Chet Holmgren, but Holmgren’s foot injury put the debate on the line.

The award with the least realistic options is probably Defensive of the Year. If Rudy Gobert can get the Minnesota Timberwolves into the top five in defensive efficiency, he could take home the award for a fourth time. Then there’s Bam Adebayo, whom the Miami Heat have defended relentlessly in past seasons, and Phoenix Suns winger Mikal Bridges, one of the few players with a good chance of winning the DPOY.

The chasers often receive the Sixth Man of the Year award, placing Golden State Warriors’ Jordan Poole and Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro at the top of any list. But there’s another candidate who doesn’t quite fit the role of the pure scorer, and that’s Boston Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon. Sure he can score, but if he wins the prize, he will have more ability to command the second unit on either end of the field.

Most Improved Player is always a hard-to-guess prize because most of the time none of us really understand the criteria. Memphis Grizzlies quarterback Ja Morant won last season when he was already expected to be an All-Star, while a player like Poole averaged 18.5 points per game for the G League championship team and finished in a disappointing fourth. This season’s nominees are often talented players who will seize more opportunities, such as Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey, New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, and Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Coach of the Year tends to go to coaches whose team exceeds expectations the most, so it’s another hard to predict. A solid leap in last season’s standings could reward a coach like New Orleans Pelicans’ Willie Green, while renowned innovators like Toronto Raptors’ Nick Nurse and Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chris Finch could be rewarded for their intelligence.

Finally, there’s Manager of the Year, which is seriously competitive this season thanks to blockbuster off-season moves from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, and Minnesota Timberwolves. But big jumps don’t always equip the home. Playing on the sidelines like Daryl Morey did with the 76ers or Brad Stevens with the Celtics can be just as important.

Our CBS Sports NBA staff have gone to great lengths to anticipate all these awards for the 2022-23 season, pointing to the clear nature of the races where none of the selections were unanimous. Awards are a snapshot of any season, so it’s a fun exercise to review the nominees for the year and then look back to see who surprised us when all was said and done.

Mike Meredith/CBS Sports

Enjoy.

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