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NBA awards finalists announced: Nikola Jokic among MVP candidates

The NBA announced its awards finalists for the regular season ahead of Friday’s NBA Play-In matchups.

There really aren’t too many surprises when it comes to who the finalists are. Two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic joined Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers as finalists for that award.

NBA Rookie of the Year finalists includes the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft as well as two other lesser-known players. As for NBA Coach of the Year, Sacramento Kings head man Mike Brown leads the group. Below, we look at all of the finalists for NBA awards this season.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA MVP rankings

Official NBA awards finalists


nba mvp finalists
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets

There has been a lot of talk about Jokic winning a third consecutive MVP award. For good reason. He averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists for a Nuggets team that earned the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season.

However, we have to give some love to what Embiid was able to do for Philadelphia during the regular season. The 76ers were 43-23 in the games Embiid suited up in. He also averaged an NBA high 33.1 points to go with 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 55% shooting from the field.

NBA Defensive Player of the Year

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Milwaukee Bucks
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
  • Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Jaren Jackson Jr. seems to be the run away winner for this award. The former top-four pick averaged a league high 3.0 blocks during the regular season. He also finished with a 3.9 defensive win shares and 2.0 defensive plus-minus for Memphis.

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NBA Most Improved Player

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz

An argument could be made for all three here. Brunson’s excellence in his first season with the New York Knicks is by now well known. He averaged 24.0 points and 6.2 assists on 49% shooting in leading New York to the No. 5 seed back east.

Already seen as a tremendous young player, Gilgeous-Alexander turned in an historic regular season for Oklahoma City. That included the guard averaging 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

As for Markkanen, he was a salary throw in when the Utah Jazz dealt Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers. En route to earning his first All-Star Game appearance, the veteran proved he can be a core player. Markkanen averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds on 50% shooting.

NBA Rookie of the Year

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic
Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
  • Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
  • Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz
  • Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

The No. 1 overall pick of the Orlando Magic in the 2022 NBA Draft, Banchero will certainly come away with this award. He averaged a rookie high 20 points to go with 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

Though, both Kessler and Williams turned in awesome rookie campaigns. The former was acquired from Utah in the deal that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded by averaging 9.2 points and 8.4 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action per game. As for Williams, the Santa Clara product was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 19.1 points on 44% shooting from distance over the final 21 regular-season games.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year

NBA: New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
  • Malcolm Brogdon, Boston Celtics
  • Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks
  • Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

We would love to see Quickley come away with this award. The youngster was great in leading the Knicks’ second unit during the regular season, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 37% shooting from distance.

NBA Coach of the Year

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
  • Mike Brown, Sacramento Kings
  • Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Joe Mazzulla, Boston Celtics

This has to be Brown’s award to lose, right? He led Sacramento to its first playoff appearance since 2006 in his initial season with the team. Sacramento also matched its eighth-most win total in a season with 48. Just a tremendous presence for a Kings organization that had been irrelevant until he took over.

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