Foreign players Joel Embiid, Nicola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been the top contenders for the NBA MVP Award in the last five years. With their influx, American players will most likely end up empty handed when it comes the MVP hardware in the foreseeable future.
Adding to their woes, generational player Victor Wembanyama will come into picture. He is expected to bully around right away starting next season. With this development, will a non-foreign NBA player win one in the next 10 years?
Here are the three Americans who may have a shot at winning the coveted MVP Award:
#1. Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics were on the verge of becoming the first team ever to overcome a 0-3 series disadvantage. Unfortunately, Tatum suffered an ankle-sprain in their very first possession. The last season’s Eastern Conference Finals MVP had managed to stay in the deciding game.
However, he was obviously far from his usual self. As a result, the Miami Heat had an easy time grabbing the crown from the defending Eastern Conference champions. Thus, the Boston Celtics' season had come to an unfortunate ending. Undoubtedly, the future is bright for Jayson Tatum as far as being one of the best players in the NBA is concerned.
The 3rd overall pick of the 2017 NBA draft out of Duke has had a sterling regular season. By putting up 30.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, Tatum catapulted the Celtics into the playoffs with second-best record overall.
However, Jason Tatum’s numbers slightly dipped in the playoffs. As a result, the Celtics struggled passed Atlanta and Philadelphia prior to their return match against the Miami Heat. Nonetheless, Tatum, a four-time all-star and a three-time all-NBA, still impressed. He almost willed the Celtics into a return to the NBA Finals.
The devastating loss will surely make the 2022 All-Star MVP a rung or two better, whether the Boston Celtics will make a major revamp or stick to their core. Having a Kobe Bryant-like work ethic, Tatum is expected to further improve his skills this summer. Starting the 2023-2024 NBA regular season, he should be in the MVP conversation once more.
#2. De'Aaron Fox
Winner of the first NBA Clutch Player of the Year award, De'Aaron Fox showed a lot of promise this season. He led the Sacramento Kings to a playoff appearance for the first time in 16 years. The fifth-year point guard put up impressive numbers: 25 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. He helped turn Sacramento’s fortunes by finishing as the third-best team in the West.
The No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA draft out of Kentucky, Fox had an electric playoff debut. He scored 38 points, a franchise record, to lead Sacramento past the Golden State Warriors.
Although De'Aaron Fox and the Kings fell short against the Warriors in the first round series, Fox has shown flashes of brilliance. His consistent development makes him a potential MVP contender in the years to come.
#3. Devin Booker
Although the Phoenix Suns fell short in the playoffs this year, Devin Booker made a lot of heads turned. The 26-year-old All-Star played better than his highly regarded teammate, Kevin Durant.
Averaging 33.7 points and 7.2 assists in their short stint in the playoffs this year, Booker led Phoenix Suns to the second-round. They ran into the top-seed Denver Nuggets and eventually fell short. In that series, Booker exploded for 47 points in Game 3. He added six rebounds, nine assists, one block, and three steals in 42 minutes.
Booker’s performance gave Phoenix their breakthrough win. He followed it up with a 36-point, 12-assist performance to tie the series at 2-2. However, Denver would show them the door by taking the next two games to end Phoenix's season abruptly.
The 13th pick in the 2015 NBA draft out of Kentucky, Booker has a career average of 27.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.
With the veteran Kevin Durant taking him under his wings, the future is bright for Devin Booker, who is approaching his peak years in the NBA. If his stellar playoff performance this year is any indication, Booker may give Jokic and company a run for their own money in the MVP race.