Update: Nikola Jokic , Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid are the finalists for the NBA’s 2021-22 MVP award, the league announced Sunday. The NBA also announced the finalists for Coach, Rookie, Defensive Player, Most Improved, and Sixth Man of the Year. TNT will announce the winners during playoff coverage. Here is our most recent look at NBA MVP odds, written a few days before the regular season ended.
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The end of the NBA regular season is in sight (April 10). Some playoff-locked teams are fighting for seeding, others are competing for a playoff berth, while lottery teams are looking forward to the NBA Draft in June. With less than a week left in the season, there is still uncertainty about what the playoffs will look like. Fans and media are also unsure who will win the Most Valuable Player award, so here’s an update on NBA MVP odds from the betting market as the season wraps up.
Luka Doncic entered the season as the +380 favorite on DraftKings to win the award, followed by Kevin Durant (+600), Joel Embiid (+800), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800), and Steph Curry (+900). Six months, key injuries, and team-altering trades later, the MVP odds have fluctuated constantly, and a new leaderboard is in place.
The award is down to a three-man race, all of whom are international big men. Nikola Jokić rose from the dead from +1500 in October to -320 at DraftKings with just a few games left to play. Joel Embiid (+220 at DraftKings) is the second betting choice, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+600) is third on the oddsboard.
Here’s how the NBA MVP odds for these three stack up at DraftKings and FanDuel.
There is a wide gap between this trio and the next contenders. Devin Booker is +7500 at DraftKings, and Doncic is +8000.
Jokic has the strongest case for taking home the MVP trophy as we enter the season’s bottom of the ninth, but shifts in the standings and a few more explosive performances can catapult Embiid and Giannis to the forefront.
The final few games can hold a lot of weight in the MVP voting. Odds could change in the next few days, so let’s take a look at whose betting prices you should be taking advantage of before it’s too late.
This Race Is The Joker’s To Lose
Jokic is in the driver’s seat en route to his second consecutive MVP destination. His case is supported by statistics (both traditional and advanced), team success above expectations, and narrative.
He leads the group in many major traditional statistics, including field goal percentage, rebounds, assists, and steals. As for advanced metrics, he beats out Embiid and Giannis in almost every category, including box plus/minus, win shares, and PER. His PER of 32.8 stands as the highest single-season PER in NBA history.
When the Nuggets lost their second and third best players in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., many people presumed these losses would impinge on the team’s success and consequently hurt Jokic’s chance at winning MVP. But Jokic has used this setback as an opportunity to showcase his uplifting presence on the court. After Tuesday night’s action, Denver is 47-33 as the sixth seed in the West and has practically clinched a playoff berth.
The best ability is availability, and Jokic has been the most available to his team compared to Embiid and Giannis, having played more minutes and games than either of them.
One factor going against Jokic is that, while he is dragging a depleted Nuggets team to the playoffs, the MVP award has been given almost exclusively to a player whose team was one of the top seeds in their conference.
Since 1983, MVPs have played on a top-two seed all but three times: Jokic (3rd seed, 2021), Russell Westbrook (6th seed, 2017), and Michael Jordan (3rd seed, 1988). Jokic disregarded history by winning MVP as a third seed just last season, but some voters might hold it against him that his team isn’t even a top-five seed in the conference. If Denver falls to the play-in and either Milwaukee or Philadelphia rises to the top seed in the East, then Jokic might lose his first-place MVP position. But as long as Jokic can maintain his team’s current spot in the West, then he should win the award with ease.
You May Want To Trust The Process
Embiid fell just short of winning MVP last season, finishing second to Jokic while averaging 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game on the No. 4 seed 76ers. He gave up his position as MVP favorite after missing 12 games in March and April. One year later, a healthier Embiid has put together an even stronger MVP case in a career year, as he’s averaging more points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks than he did last season. He stands above Jokic and Giannis in points and blocks per game, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage.
Voters want to see their MVP win big games against tougher competition, and Embiid has satisfied the voters’ wishes more than Jokic and Giannis. Philadelphia is the only team of three to have a winning record against teams .500 and above. The 76ers are 25-22, the Bucks 22-23, and the Nuggets 16-25.
Embiid said facetiously he doesn’t know what he has to do to win MVP. He has averaged about 36.8 points and 14.7 rebounds per game on 56.11% shooting from the floor in his last six games. Last Sunday, he dropped 44 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks in a win over Cleveland. Tuesday night, he posted a similar performance, going for 45 points and 13 rebounds in a nine-point victory over Indiana.
Of the three players with the shortest odds to win MVP, Embiid’s team has the easiest remaining schedule, both from a team standpoint and an individual matchup standpoint. He goes up against the Raptors, Pacers, and Pistons. If Embiid wins out and locks up the scoring title, both doable, then he will surely receive MVP consideration.
Giannis Needs Freakish End To Season
Giannis’ MVP case is the weakest of the top three candidates, which explains his +600 odds. He doesn’t lead the three men in any major statistical category – both traditional and advanced – but he is second in win shares and box plus/minus. His PER of 32.28 is on pace to be the second-highest single-season PER of all time, only behind Jokic’s.
Giannis knows that if he wants to strengthen his case for MVP, then he’s going to have to boost his team’s win count to supplement his individual performances, and so far, so good. The Bucks are 12-3 in Giannis’ last 15 games, while he has averaged 31.4 points and 12.6 rebounds (consistent with his season averages) over that span.
Giannis, similar to Embiid, doesn’t fully control his fate. He’s in Jokic’s shadow, and the only way out is by pushing for a top-two seed in the East by season’s end, while Jokic falls to the play-in. The problem is the Bucks are 2.5 games behind the Heat for the top seed and don’t own the tiebreaker. Therefore, No. 2 is the highest realistic seed Milwaukee can reach.
Milwaukee shares the same record with Boston and Philadelphia, with three games to go. Here’s where it gets interesting: Boston owns the tiebreaker with Milwaukee if the two teams finish with the same record, but Milwaukee has the edge over Boston and Philadelphia if the three teams stay with the same record. It’ll enhance Giannis’ MVP case if he can beat out both Boston and MVP-opponent Embiid for the two-seed.
If you trust Giannis to earn his team the two-seed, beat out LeBron and Embiid for the scoring title, and hope that Jokic’s Nuggets lose out, then you must invest in the Greek Freak’s +600 odds.
These Guys Are Getting No Love
The MVP winner will likely come down to either Jokic, Embiid, or Giannis, as they each have an MVP-worthy combination of talent, stats, and team success. However, the Suns’ Devin Booker (+7500) and Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (+25000) have also made strong cases for the honor.
Booker is putting up a quiet 26.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game on a team that is head and shoulders above the rest of the league, but voters and media don’t seem to care. The Suns care, though, pointing out that all 12 players in NBA history with 25-5-5 stat line while playing on the team with the best record have won MVP.
Book meets the criteria. pic.twitter.com/j2v5MUrEPs
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 25, 2022
Booker needs to crank up the assists to return to 5.0 assists per game, but that is well within his capability. He also helped Phoenix stay afloat while Chris Paul missed 15 straight games with a right thumb fracture. MVP is normally awarded to the best player on the best team, which Booker clearly is. But since he isn’t recognized as a bona fide “Batman”-level player, he’s unlikely to receive a single first-place vote.
Tatum has upped his game dramatically this season, posting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, PER, win shares, and box plus/minus, and value over replacement player. Not only has his improved play made him likely to receive an All-NBA selection, but it has contributed to his team exceeding expectations. Boston entered the season with a win total of 46.5 at FanDuel. Tatum clearly took offense to that, as the team won 22 of 25 games from late January to late March and looked like the best team in basketball. The Celtics are 49-30 with three games to play, tied with the Bucks and 76ers for the second seed in the East. There isn’t much that Tatum can do with three games left in the regular season to sway voters, but he’s been exciting to watch, and we look forward to him leading the Celtics to a deep postseason run.