The 2022-23 NBA season is a few months away, and there has already been some big news in free agency, including Minnesota’s acquisition of Rudy Gobert and Brooklyn’s rebuilding process with both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving dangled in trade baits. We could have even more deals as other contending teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, are looking to make big moves to improve their standings in their respective conferences.
With the Golden State Warriors looking to repeat as champions and the Los Angeles Clippers superteam returning, it is safe to say that all NBA fans cannot wait for the start of the new season. But who will be the standout players next season? It is time to predict the preliminary award winners in all the major categories for the 2022-23 NBA season. While some names might be expected, there might be some surprises across some of those awards.
Coach of the Year: Tyronn Lue
Runner-Up: Jason Kidd
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be back on the court for the Los Angeles Clippers, and that means the team will be one of the favorites to win it all. Kawhi is an absolute superstar when healthy, and he should be back to his place when it comes to leading a contending team in the Western Conference. With the addition of John Wall to the roster, Los Angeles will be a massive problem in 2023. And guess who will be coaching the star players?
Ty Lue could be the favorite to win Coach of the Year. Lue is a master tactician and in-game adjustment king and always seems to find a way to motivate the role players to play hard and accept backseat roles. If the Clippers finish with a top seed in the West and the stars play well together, Lue will be rewarded for his coaching efforts with the coveted Coach of the Year award.
Otherwise, expect Jason Kidd to continue to lead the Dallas Mavericks to top seedings in the Western Conference. Kidd managed to get the whole team to buy into the defensive end, including Luka Doncic, and that is something invaluable for a young team looking to break through in a competitive Western Conference. If Kidd can incorporate Christian Wood well and also continue teaching Luka the ropes of being a two-way superstar, he could challenge Tyronn Lue for the Coach of the Year award.
Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo
Runner-Up: Anfernee Simons
Very few players have had to deal with frustrating circumstances more than Victor Oladipo. The former All-Star guard has struggled to stay healthy, and injuries might have derailed his career. Oladipo is returning to the Miami Heat next year, and unless Miami makes a blockbuster move, he will be required to take a bigger role on the court. It is strange for a former All-Star to win Most Improved Player, but he could win it thanks to a bounce-back season.
Last year, Oladipo averaged 12.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 3.5 APG while shooting 41.7% from three. But Victor only appeared in 8 games and has not played at least 50 games for four straight seasons. Next year, expect Victor to work hard to return back to close to All-Star form and get his numbers up. Oladipo was an All-Star in 2019, and hopefully, he can get back to that level of play. If Miami runs it back with the same roster, Oladipo might need to take more of a scoring role.
Not to mention, Anfernee Simons will return to the court next year after having a breakout season in 2022. The talented guard was signed to a big contract to be the “new” CJ McCollum, and he could be an excellent sidekick to superstar Damian Lillard. Simons averaged 17.3 PPG last year, and he could take his scoring up to at least 20 PPG as a three-point shooter and attacker of the basketball. Portland fans will be excited to see the 23-year-old return back to his excellent form from a season ago.
Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Poole
Runner-Up: Spencer Dinwiddie
The Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA championship, and the franchise seems to be proceeding with the intent to run back the same roster. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green will be back, and so will Jordan Poole. Poole is an excellent offensive player with deep range, and he showcased that in the NBA Finals by coming off the bench. Next year, Poole will likely have an even bigger role with more experience under his belt.
Last year, Poole averaged 18.5 PPG off the bench mainly, and he could put up similar numbers except do more things on the floor with the Warriors. The shooting guard is one of the players who could be in the mix for his first All-Star Team, but he could settle for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Expect Poole to attack next season with more confidence, and his numbers could take him up the rankings for the award for being the best player off the bench.
Spencer Dinwiddie, a player who must replace Jalen Brunson in the Dallas Mavericks lineup next year, will also be in the mix for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Dinwiddie averaged 13.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 5.2 APG last year but could take his numbers up across the board. The offensively inclined guard is only 29 years old, so he can still be a valuable member of the court with the Mavericks.
Rookie of the Year: Paolo Banchero
Runner-Up: Jabari Smith
The Rookie of the Year award race could be an exciting one to follow throughout the year. Obviously, three players stand out for the award: Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith. Because he plays on arguably the worst team in the NBA and the fact he is the only real offensive weapon on his team, Paolo Banchero will likely win the Rookie of the Year award after going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.
Banchero is NBA-ready at 6’10” with a grown man body and has elite offensive skills. He will likely have the most seamless transition into the NBA, and because of that, his stats will be very impressive on the court. The forward will be given the opportunity to express himself with the Magic, and he will do that very well. Most likely, Jabari Smith will challenge Banchero for the award because he is such a smooth operator on the floor.
The Rockets have Jalen Green who will have a bigger offensive role on the court, and Smith will likely be reserved for a secondary role. That will hurt his chances to score the ball more with the Rockets, although he will put up very solid numbers. Obviously, Chet Holmgren could burst onto the scene and have big games with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Chet could struggle with the physicality of the NBA, which means Banchero has the best chance to win Rookie of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Runner-Up: Rudy Gobert
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the greatest defensive players in recent memory, because he is an incredibly gifted player with exceptional athleticism. The Greek Freak can defend 4 or even 5 positions at any given moment, although he is best defending other forwards on the court. Giannis stands 6’11” and weighs 242 lbs, but he moves like a guard and can use his physicality and size to make a difference against smaller players. Even when defending bigger players, Giannis has the speed to recover well defensively.
No matter what people might have to say about the Bucks’ disappointing playoff exit last year, Giannis has a ton of talent on both ends of the floor - especially on the defensive end. Expect Giannis to be back, and ready to prove himself as one of the best defensive players in the game. The Bucks superstar already has a Defensive Player of the Year trophy on his resume, so there could be extra motivation for the superstar to win his second award to continue boosting his status as an all-time great player.
Rudy Gobert, a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, could be in the mix for his 4th award. The Frenchman is an elite defensive player, standing 7’1” with extremely long arms. With his new home in Minnesota, Gobert could be out to silence critics who believe the Frenchman is not a truly impactful All-Star. Playing alongside another All-Star big in Karl-Anthony Towns could help Gobert focus even more on defense, and winning his 4th Defensive Player of the Year award would be an extremely impressive achievement because only two players have 4 awards and those are Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace.
Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant
Runner-Up: Luka Doncic
Kevin Durant is long overdue for an MVP Award. He won his first and only MVP in the 2014 season and playing for the Golden State Warriors hurt his chances every year because of the amount of talent on his team. Durant has a lot of talent with him in Brooklyn, but Kyrie Irving and James Harden have missed plenty of games over the past few seasons and should miss some more this upcoming season. Of course, Durant might not be on the Nets roster next year but no matter where he goes, he could be the favorite for the MVP award.
The superstar forward averaged 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.4 APG last season while shooting 51.8% from the field, 38.3% from three, and 91.0% from the free-throw line. Durant was on track to compete for the MVP award at the start of the year, but Brooklyn’s disastrous season was a result of Kyrie Irving’s unwillingness to take the covid vaccine and James Harden’s drama. Next year, expect Kevin Durant to return with a vengeance and continue with his efficient self offensively. Whether he remains with the Nets or plays elsewhere, the forward will put up MVP numbers with ease as he is still in his prime.
Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks superstar, will also be in the mix for the MVP award as the team might have improved with the addition of talented big man Christian Wood. Luka made the Western Conference Finals last year and could come back next year in better shape with more experience under his belt. Doncic could win the MVP award at age 23, an alarming achievement although it would take a great effort to overcome Durant.