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Jokic, Gilgeous-Alexander and Doncic have been named NBA MVP finalists. Wemby is also in the running for two trophies

Nikola Jokic is one step closer to winning a third MVP award in the past four seasons. Victor Wembanyama is certainly on his way to a trophy – or maybe two. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might get a few of his own, too.

The NBA announced the finalists for most of the league’s postseason awards on Sunday — and it’s no surprise that Denver Nuggets star Jokic was one of the top three vote-getters for the highest individual honor, the Michael Jordan Trophy which is awarded to the Most Valuable Player of the competition.

The others: Luka Doncic of Dallas and Gilgeous-Alexander of Oklahoma City. Last season’s MVP, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, was ineligible this year due to the new league rule that requires players to appear in a certain number of games to participate in the awards.

Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander would be MVPs for the first time. Gilgeous-Alexander was a finalist for Most Improved Player last year – and this year he is in the running for the MVP award.

This much is already certain: It will be the sixth consecutive year that an international player wins MVP, extending the longest streak in NBA history. Giannis Antetokounmpo – he of Greek and Nigerian descent – ​​won in 2019 and 2020, the Serbian Jokic won in 2021 and 2022 and Embiid won last season. Embiid was born in Cameroon but became a U.S. citizen in 2022 and has been selected for the team that will represent USA Basketball at the Paris Olympics this summer.

The awards are voted on by a panel of reporters and broadcasters who cover the league, and are based solely on regular season games. Ballots were due last week before the start of the play-in tournament, and the league is expected to begin announcing winners periodically in the coming days.

Rookie of the Year

Be surprised if Wembanyama wins.

The San Antonio standout from France and No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft – who finished the year averaging 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and an NBA-best 3.6 blocked shots per game – is the overwhelming favorite to become the third Spurs player to win rookie of the year. The others: David Robinson in 1990 and Tim Duncan in 1998.

The other finalists are Chet Holmgren of Oklahoma City – who helped the Thunder to No. 1 in the Western Conference – and Brandon Miller of Charlotte.

“I’m quite proud of leading rookies in most categories and leading the league in blocks,” Wembanyama said.

Wembanyama should become the first international winner of the award since Dallas’ Luka Doncic in 2019 and the fifth winner in the past 10 seasons. Andrew Wiggins (Canada) won in 2015, Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican Republic) won in 2016, Ben Simmons (Australia) won in 2018 and Doncic followed the following season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Wembanyama were the three finalists – meaning the Spurs rookie is now guaranteed a place in the top three in two different rounds of voting.

None of last season’s finalists made the top three this year. Jaren Jackson Jr. of Memphis won the award last season, while Brook Lopez of Milwaukee and Evan Mobley of Cleveland were the other finalists in 2023.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Tyrese Maxey of Philadelphia, Coby White of Chicago and Alperen Sengun of Houston are this year’s finalists.

Lauri Markkanen of Utah won last year, while Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Brunson of New York were the other finalists.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

Bobby Portis of Milwaukee is again a finalist, along with Malik Monk of Sacramento and Naz Reid of Minnesota.

Malcolm Brogdon, then of Boston, won the award last year, while Portis and Immanuel Quickley of New York were the other finalists.

CLUTCH PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Golden State’s Stephen Curry. Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan and Oklahoma City’s Gilgeous-Alexander are the finalists for clutch player of the year.

DeRozan was also a finalist last year, when Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox won.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Mark Daigneault of Oklahoma City, Chris Finch of Minnesota and Jamahl Mosley of Orlando were the top three vote-getters.

Daigneault has already won the coach of the year award presented by the National Basketball Coaches Association — not the official NBA award, but one that has often reflected the final results of league voting since its introduction in 2017. Over the first seven seasons, one of the NBCA selections (there have been two co-winners) became a five-time NBA winner.

Mike Brown of Sacramento was the unanimous winner last year, with Daigneault and Joe Mazzulla of Boston the other finalists in 2023.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA