For the past three seasons, the individual battle between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid has defined the MVP race. But several other strong candidates seem prepared to make a run this year, including Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Tyrese Haliburton and more.
The MVP race has turned into an exercise in groupthink and tracking NBA Player of the Month early in the season could be a way of identifying early front-runners. But even if a favorite emerges early and continues to build their lead, these monthly awards for the best players in each conference are a great way to spread the focus, celebrating exceptional performances even if they might not end up winning a year-end award.
Every NBA Player of the Month winner for 2023-24
Jayson Tatum helped the Celtics get this season off to a blistering start this season, going 11-4 in the month of November with eight double-digit wins. Tatum averaged 27.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. His defense has continued to be top-notch and he's developed as a playmaker every season he's been in the league. This was the third time Tatum had won NBA Player of the Month in his career, and the second time he had won for the month of November.
Nikola Jokic picked up right where left off in last season's NBA Finals. He was nearly in triple-double territory, averaging 29.7 points, 13.4 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 1.4 steals in November. The Nuggets went just 7-7 in the month as they navigated several injuries but Jokic's production was too immense to be ignored. This was the seventh time in his career that Jokic has won NBA Player of the Month, although this is the earliest he'd ever won it. His previous Player of the Month awards all came in January, February or March.
In December, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander firmly established himself as one of the best two-way players in the league and maybe even entered the MVP race. The Thunder went 10-3 in the month with him averaging 31.4 points, 6.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game. His isolation scoring has become unstoppable, he's the Thunder's primary playmaker and he's leading the league in steals by a healthy margin.
In the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo helped re-establish the Bucks as inner-circle contenders, averaging 32.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. He helped lead the Bucks to an 11-2 record and dropped a franchise-record 64 points on the Indiana Pacers in one of their only two losses.
Devin Booker helped carry the resurgent Suns in January, averaging 30.0 points, 6.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, on 54/40/86 shooting splits. The Suns went 11-5 in the month, climbing two spots in the ultra-competitive Western Conference standings. In the East, Donovan Mitchell had a similarly transformative effect, averaging 28.6 points, 7.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. The Cavs went 11-2 for the month, jumping from sixth to fourth in the Eastern Conference, despite missing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley for large stretches.