The moment we’ve been waiting for is finally here. The stage is set for the 2023 NBA Finals, with the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat ready to battle it out for the championship. Apart from the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy, the other award at stake will be the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

For many, it will be a two-man battle. Nikola Jokic and Jimmy Butler are the faces of their respective teams, which is why many believe they will be crucial to determine the winner of the series.

It makes sense, since both of them have played at an incredible level in this playoffs so far. However, in sports there’s always room for surprise, so let’s take a look at other potential candidates to take the limelight in the NBA Finals.

4. Bam Adebayo

While Jimmy Buckets often steals all the headlines, Bam Adebayo does the dirty work to let his teammates have the freedom to shine. The Heat big man plays a pivotal role in both ends of the floor, so he’s definitely a player to watch in this series.

Adebayo, who has been in Miami since the 2017 NBA Draft, is the co-star Butler needed to get here. Ahead of Game 1, the center averages 16.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG and 3.8 APG in this playoffs.

3. Michael Porter Jr.

The Joker is without any doubt the biggest reason why the Nuggets got here. However, this is still a team sport, and it would be unfair to overlook the job done by the rest of his teammates.

Jokic’s supporting cast has also been crucial to help Denver reach the Finals. Michael Porter Jr., for instance, averages 8.0 RBS in this postseason, only behind the Serbian star. He’s also the third Nuggets player with the highest PPG average (14.6).

2. Caleb Martin

If there’s a Heat player who has taken everyone by surprise this year, that’s Caleb Martin. His story is already well known around the league, he went undrafted in 2019 and was later cut by the Hornets before landing in Miami on a two-way contract.

Eventually, Erik Spoelstra proved to know best. Not only did Martin make the roster, but he also became a key contributor in the starting lineup. His performances in the playoffs have been outstanding so far, especially in the Conference Finals.

1. Jamal Murray

As we’ve said before, to reduce the Nuggets’ chances to Jokic would be unfair to the rest of the team. In this journey, The Joker has had the perfect teammate by his side in the form of Jamal Murray.

Second in PPG (27.7) and APG (6.1) for the Nuggets (only behind the Serbian) in this playoffs, the guard has been playing with a chip on his shoulder lately. So we could definitely have a potential Finals MVP here.