NBA Awards Rankings: New No. 1 in MVP race

Tyrese Haliburton is that dude.
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The In-Season Tournament wrapped up with an appropriate champion — LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, with the King adding one more accolade to his incomparable résumé. The Lakers performed when the lights were brightest, and well, LeBron still has it. It looks different than it did a decade ago, but James can still go toe-to-toe with anybody. We should all appreciate greatness.

That leads perfectly into the MVP race, as there has been greatness aplenty to appreciate in 2023. As the calendar approaches its turning point, the list of players with a legitimate claim to the title of "most valuable" is abnormally long. The usual candidates persist, while upstart newcomers threaten to play spoiler.

As the standings continue to evolve, a couple teams continue to stand above the rest — the 17-4 Minnesota Timberwolves and the 16-5 Boston Celtics. It is therefore interesting that neither has a player in the latest MVP rankings. It's a testament to the depth and collective efforts of those teams. (To be fair, Jayson Tatum and Anthony Edwards are right on the bubble.)

Here's how the MVP rankings shape up.

NBA MVP power rankings: Week 7

Honorable mentions: Jayson Tatum, Anthony Edwards, Bam Adebayo, Alperen Sengun, Jalen Brunson

. player. 84. . Guard. Kings. De'Aaron Fox. De'Aaron Fox. 10. 10

By definition, it's necessary to limit each team to one MVP candidate, right? That's particularly difficult with the Sacramento Kings, who have rebounded from a slow start to the season behind great individual efforts from both De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. The former gets the nod today for the value derived from his constant dribble penetration, efficient finishing, and increasingly dynamic shot-making. Over his last five games, Fox is averaging 31.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists on .474/.361/.704 splits.

20. . Wing. LeBron James. LeBron James. player. . Lakers. 9. 9

In-Season Tournament MVP LeBron James. He's the first ever, as is the case with a number of LeBron's career accomplishments. He has been terrorizing defenses in ways both new and old, picking his spots wisely as a scorer — featuring career-best 3-point numbers of 40.7 percent on 5.6 attempts — and kickstarting the Lakers' offense with his standard passing brilliance.

Stephen Curry. . Guard. player. . Stephen Curry. 8. 41. 8. Warriors

The Golden State Warriors' losing record limits Stephen Curry's placement here, but the production is as strong as ever. He's averaging 29.4 points on .476/.432/.934 splits, in line with the best scoring campaigns of his historic career. Golden State's depth has crumbled around him. Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson have been subpar, and the Warriors' young bucks are once again being treated to Steve Kerr's short leash. Curry will continue to carry Golden State on his shoulders, per usual, and he can't be left off these lists.

7. Forward. Suns. 7. . 66. Kevin Durant. player. . Kevin Durant

The Phoenix Suns continue to hit bumps in the road, losing four of their last five. The impending return of Bradley Beal coincides with a fresh ankle injury for Kevin Durant. Still, Phoenix is a couple games above .500 and Durant has been the team's most consistent star presence amid an early rash of injuries. He's shooting absurd splits from the field — .521/.500/.892 — and he's on track for the second-highest scoring average of his career at 31.0 points per game.

79. 6. . . Luka Doncic. Mavericks. 6. player. Guard. Luka Doncic

There has been some intense discourse around Luka Doncic's value lately. There is quite plainly no world in which the Dallas Mavericks are better off without him. There is perhaps truth to the notion that Doncic's ball-dominant style tethers the team too tightly to his own individual ups and downs on a night-to-night basis, but he's on track for career-best shooting numbers (.488/.382/.766) and he's averaging 35.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists over his last five appearances. The Mavs are 13-8, so he's winning games.