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The First Round of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup is over, and the best teams have progressed to the Second Round. Behind the play of their stars, the top nations will tip off the next tournament phase on September 1st!
United States guard Anthony Edwards remains the favorite to win tournament MVP, but others have impressed and are closing the gap. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Canada to an undefeated First Round and has completed the gap between him and Edwards. And after a great showing in the First Round, United States forward Austin Reaves has leapfrogged the competition to be third in odds to win Most Valuable Player.
Let's check out the bets!
Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, 30 August 2023
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Anthony Edwards was expected to play a significant role for the United States through the early phases of this tournament, and he has. While he hasn't been as efficient as head coach Steve Kerr would like, Edwards remains a constant threat with plenty of room to improve as the tournament progresses.
Anthony Edwards has averaged 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists on 45.9% from the field and 40.0% from three through the First Round. He posted a game-high of 22 points against Jordan en route to their 3-0 First Round record. He currently ranks as the USA's top-ranked scorer with the team's third-best plus-minus (16.7) rating.
Edwards' numbers aren't that of an MVP, but many times, a winner is picked by their performances in the knockout stages. Going into another group phase featuring Lithuania, Montenegro, and Greece, Edwards needs to improve his efficiency against squads who can pack the paint.
Leading the FIBA Basketball World Cup's hottest team, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander helped Canada earn the top spot in Group H. While they weren't without their struggles through the process, it was always Gilgeous-Alexander who pushed Canada to the finish line. While he's still runner-up in odds to win Tournament MVP, continued performances like in the First Round could quickly make him the favorite.
Through the First Round of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Gilgeous-Alexander started all three games for Les Rouges and averaged 22.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 5.7 assists on 54.5% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range. He scored 27 points twice, with one instance being part of a 13-rebound double-double in a win over France.
Gilgeous-Alexander has been so good that he'd be an easy choice to call the current favorite. He does need to improve his shooting, but the combination of success and individual production makes it easy to see why Gilgeous-Alexander is a favorite for the prize.
A surprise for many NBA fans, guard Austin Reaves not only stepped up for his club side this past season but for his country at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Initially thought to be the 15th man on the United States roster, Reaves has carved out a role for himself and now sits among the favorites to win Tournament MVP.
In 19.5 minutes per game, Reaves has averaged 11.7 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds on 60.0% from the field and 55.6% from three-point range. He scored his game-high of 15 points in a First Round victory over Greece, shooting 4 of 7 from the floor while dishing six assists and collecting five rebounds.
While Reaves has been exceptional for the United States through the First Round, his name being included among the MVP candidates has yet to be earned. While productive, Reaves isn't expected to take on a leadership role in the coming matches. Unless he becomes hyper-efficient and effective in his position, don't expect Reaves to maintain his place in the odds table - as fun as it may be!
One of the most controversial figures in the build-up to the tournament, there were plenty of opinions about Paolo Banchero. However, with the United States, Banchero has more than shown his quality through the First Round of play.
Through three games, Banchero has averaged 12.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game on 63.2% from the field and 50.0% from three-point range. His best tournament match was his first, where he contributed 21 points, four rebounds, and four blocks on 80.0% shooting from the field.
Banchero hasn't been able to replicate his first game dominance, but he remains a constant threat for the United States on both ends of the court. As the quality of their competition increases, expect Banchero to maintain his quality play.
Without a doubt, Luka Doncic is one of the top players of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup so far. The Slovenian guard has led his team to the Second Round of the competition, and his production looks like it'll continue for a while.
In three first-round games, Doncic has averaged 30.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game on 45.5% shooting from the field. His best performance came against Venezuela, where he posted 37 points, seven rebounds, and six assists on 61.1% shooting from the field.
In the tournament's second round, Doncic and Slovenia were placed in Group K against Germany, Australia, and Georgia. The competition will get even more demanding, but Doncic is the type to step up. If Slovenia can progress to the knockout phase, expect Doncic to fly up the odds table.
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Ricky Rubio of Spain was the most recent player to win the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP. Rubio led Spain to their second FIBA World Cup, averaging 16.4 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.5 steals in eight games.
Oscar Furlong of Argentina was the inaugural winner of the FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP, at the time known as the FIBA World Championship 1950. Furlong averaged 11.2 points per game, leading Argentina to a 6-0 record en route to the 1950 FIBA World Championship.
No player has won the FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP multiple times.
The now-dissolved country of Yugoslavia produced the most FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP winners, with five between 1967 and 1990. The winners were: Toni Kukoc (1990), Drazen Petrovic (1986), Drazen Dalipagic (1978), Dragan Kicanovic (1974), Ivo Denu (1967).
Europe has produced the most FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP winners with ten possible 19 awards. The countries that contributed to that total are Germany (1), FR Yugoslavia (1), Soviet Union (1), Spain (2), and Yugoslavia (5).
There has never been a FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP from Africa, Asia, or Oceania.
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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