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Yes, we all know the Lakers struggled last season to produce after building a roster full of veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, and Carmelo Anthony. But, for James and Davis to be completely left out of ESPN's recent MVP projections was surprising for many Lakers fans. 

Here is the list of the top 5 MVP contenders for the 2022-2023 season according to ESPN's insiders.

Now, let's break down each of their stats from their last seasons and compare them to our current top two Lakers. 

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The two-time MVP rightfully deserves a spot on the list and here's why: he was averaging 29.9 PPG (55.3% FG%) and shot 29.3% from behind the arc, his 7'3 wingspan and boundless athleticism helped him collect 11.6 rebounds per game, and this season he's projected to have the best scoring season of his career with a 31.6 PPG average (according to

Giannis is also the only player in NBA history to average at least 25 PPG, 10 RPG, 5 APG, 1 BPG and 1 SPG in multiple seasons. 

2. Luka Doncic

The 2018-2019 Rookie of the Year averaged 28.4 points per game last season and is the only player in NBA history with over 20 triple-doubles at age 21 or younger. Last season he shot in the 35% range from the 3 point line which he's predicted to do so again. The Mavs point guard has a wide range of skills and he's still only 22-years-old. 

3. Joel Embiid

Embiid, a five time All-Star is coming off his best season yet. He captured his first scoring title on the strength of his 30.6 PPG and shot nearly 50% (49.9%) from the field. Embiid wasn't just a scorer either - he averaged 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. A second-consecutive scoring title certainly isn't out of the question.

4. Stephen Curry

Steph, also a two-time MVP, looks to have another solid season after leading his Warriors to their 4th NBA championship in his time there. He's predicted to shoot 38.7% from behind the arc, 91.5% from the free-throw line, and average 27.9 PPG. Although his average isn't as high as others, the whole basketball world, and especially the Celtics, learned just how deep the Warriors roster is.

5. Kawhi Leonard

This one is shocking as Leonard underwent surgery for ACL repair in 2021. He did not play the entire 2021-2022 season yet NBA insiders still ranked him in the top five. He averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game in the 2020-2021 season.

Lebron James

The 18-time All-Star, 4time Finals MVP, 4time NBA Champ, and 4-time MVP was completely left off the list. LeBron posted a 52% FG% and scored an average 30.3 points per game, and averaged 8.2 rebounds this past season season. Solid numbers, yet still not enough for ESPN's insiders. The main reason he might have been overlooked was due to the pessimism surrounding the Lakers ability to contend this coming season.

Antony Davis

Although the 6'10 power forward struggled to score this season, he still put up solid numbers. He averaged 23.2 points per game, shot over 53%, and also collected 9.9 rebounds per game. The question with Davis isn't his ability, it's his availability.

Do the Lakers, including James and Davis, have a chance to surprise a few folks this season or could it just be another repeat of last year?