We've reached the midway point of the 2023 AFL season, which means it's time to dish out awards for the best-performing players to date.

The opening half of the year has offered plenty of thrills and spills, with each club forging an identity as we begin to work through the final stretch of this season's premiership race.

Individuals have stuck their necks out in contention for particular awards, and here we detail who may be leading the honours as we turn to the second half of the season.

Without further ado, we name our Brownlow Medal winner, Rising Star winner, Most Improved Player, Recruit of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year from the first half of the 2023 season.


Brownlow Medal

Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)

The opening portion of the 2023 season has unsheathed three central candidates to take out our mid-year Brownlow: inspirational Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli, Magpies father-son prodigy Nick Daicos, and raging Demons midfielder Christian Petracca.

It's difficult to argue anyone other than Bontempelli has been the most purely impactful player in the AFL across most facets this season, so far. The left-footed on-ball beast has continued his individual ascension, helping lift his Bulldogs as they continue to battle for top-eight seeding throughout the second half of their campaign.

Operating within an engine room that also boasts contested-ball merchant Tom Liberatore and running accumulators Bailey Smith and Adam Treloar, ‘Bont' has managed staggering per-game averages of 26.0 disposals, 13.9 contested possessions, 7.7 clearances, 5.2 inside-50s, and 7.7 tackles in 2023 to position himself as the league's best-and-fairest favourite.

However, despite Bontempelli's prolific and undeniable game influence, it may actually be Daicos who is leading the current count for ‘Chas'. Due to Collingwood's all-conquering team success through the first half of the season, Daicos, also a deserving recipient of the Most Improved Player award even after his head-turning rookie season last year, could find himself a smidgen in front of the Bulldogs' game-changer at the halfway mark.

Then there's Melbourne's Petracca, who is putting together a memorable campaign of his own, leading the AFL in inside 50s (6.9 per game) and score involvements (8.8), ranking second in metres gained (523.8 – trailing only Richmond's Jayden Short), and tacking on a per-game mean of 28.7 disposals.

Dissimilar to the vast majority of AFL players, Petracca is capable of making virtually every single one of his disposals impactful; whether it's a booming centre clearance resulting in a score involvement, a penetrating inside 50 entry following a blistering exit from stoppage, or simply a team-lifting goal to increase his team's lead. Put simply: he makes good things happen with a tendency unlike just about any other player in the competition – apart from Bontempelli, which is part of the reason ‘Bont' gets the gong here (just).