Words by Landon Buford
We are two weeks away from the start of the NBA season. One of the marquee matchups we will see on October 19th, we will see during rivalry week, is a rematch of the 2022 Western Conference Semifinals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns. The Dallas Mavericks would be going on to beat the Suns in seven games behind the stellar play from three-time All-Star Luka Doncic. During that series, Doncic averaged 32.6 Points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Heading into this season, Doncic is the preseason odds-on favorite to be the 2022-23 NBA MVP at +450.
“Hopefully, MVP is unbelievable,” Doncic said. “If I could be named MVP would be an enormous accomplishment. I’ll be so happy, but you never know. I hope I’m in that conversation.”
Meanwhile, Suns guard Devin Booker led his team in scoring during the series against the Dallas Mavericks with 23.4 points and added 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 0.6 steals per game. Booker is a preseason +2800 to win the MVP Award this season. Last season, he finished fourth in MVP voting.
Booker also received support from fellow all-star guard Damian Lillard.
“Like right now, how is Devin Booker at the top of the damn list? I don’t understand how? I don’t care what nobody says. There is no way. Like how is he not at the top of this list? Said Lillard.
“The Suns are about to have 60 wins, and CP has been out since the All-Star break. Before that, I think Ayton was out, and they started JaVale McGee for all these games. All this stuff has been going on, and he’s [Booker] been like 35, 25 [8 and 8], 44, and 49. Quietly, just killing, being consistent, and winning. Every time I look at the box scores of the games around the league, the Suns win again, he is the best player on the team, and he is producing. How is this dude not at the top up there? “
Another marquee match to look out for is between 2022 MVP runner-up Joel Embiid, who is +500 in the preseason rankings, to win this year’s award, as the Philadelphia 76ers and the Eastern Conference Champions, the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum on October 18th.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 48 percent of the leagues’ GMs picked Doncic to win the MVP this season, with 34 percent having Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo finishing second and Embiid finishing third with 14 percent.
“I’m not mad,” Embiid said. “The last two years in a row, I’ve put myself in that position. It didn’t happen. It’s almost like, at this point, it’s whatever. Whatever happens, happens. Last year I campaigned about it, this year, I answered questions when I was asked, and the next, you know, a few years before I retire, it’s almost like I don’t know what else I have to do to win it.”
Sixers assistant coach Dave Joerger agrees with Embiid. “I can’t speak to that,” said Joerger. “I’m very partial, and I think he should have won [MVP] the last two years.”
“I’ve coached against him as well,” said Joerger, who had former head coaching stints in Memphis and Sacramento. “He’s a problem. He’s a big problem. But the inner working of what people in the league think as people who coach against him, he is not underrated. “But we’re not out there. And I don’t do social media. So, I’m not tweeting, ‘Joel’s a beast.”
Last month, Embiid was officially named a US Citizen.