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NBA MVP Odds Update: Joel Embiid Climbs To The Top

After an unprecedented run, Joel Embiid finally finds himself leading the race for MVP. But two challengers are right on his heels in the most competitive race in recent memory.
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NBA MVP Odds Update: Joel Embiid Climbs To The Top

5. Ja Morant (+1600, Last Week: +1600) (Bet $100 to win $1600)

Morant is still playing out of his mind and is still a lock for Most Improved Player this year. Seriously, his odds are -200 while next in line is at +800. But it's a stretch to think he might overtake the four players ahead of him to win the MVP.

The Grizzlies are the story of the NBA this year as their 36-18 record is third best in the West and would be first in the East by three games. The reason is Morant who has career highs across the board this year in points, field goal percentage, three points percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks.

Morant has evolved his game into much more of an attacker. He is second in the NBA in drives to the basket, and first in points per game off of those drives. That penetration allows the other Grizzlies shooters to have better looks at the basket when Morant passes and they are taking advantage.

The star Grizzlies point guard will take home an award this offseason, it just won't be MVP despite how amazing his play is this year.

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4. Steph Curry (+500Last Week: +400) (Bet $100 to win $500)

We now have some clear evidence of that the Klay Thompson return has on Curry's MVP chances. Just over a month ago, Curry was the favorite at +160 to win the award. Thompson's return and falling two games behind the Suns has put those chances on life support.

With Klay Thompson back, the Warriors have given Curry rest games and games to heal from minor injuries he might have otherwise played through. The Warriors are still the most dominant defensive team in the league, but they also miss Draymond Green's interior presence.

However...the diminished pressure on the offensive and defensive sides of the court have led to MUCH more efficiency from Curry. In his last five games, Curry is averaging 27 points per game on 49% shooting from the floor and 49% from three. Compare that to 42%/38% for the season and it has been a massive improvement.

We know if there is any player who could suddenly catch complete fire and go scorched earth on the league it's Curry. So if these odds drift any more, I might be tempted to buy back in based on what we've seen recently.

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3. Giannis Antetokuonmpo (+400, Last Week: +330) (Bet $100 to win $400)

The Greek Freak has done absolutely nothing to cause his own stock to fall out of the pole position he occupied just eight days ago. But The Joker and The Process have been so unbelievably dominant that Giannis simply got passed by even faster cars.

Almost fully healthy, the Bucks are now within one game of the lead in a suddenly very competitive Eastern Conference. A stat line of 31.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in January would simply smother all challengers in most years, but this is shaping up to be one of the more competitive three-man races we have seen for some time.

Giannis is top-three in all of the advanced metrics this year: win shares (2nd), plus/minus (2nd), player efficiency rating (3rd). The only player keeping him out of the top spot on most lists is this guy right in front of him.

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2. Nikola Jokic (+330, Last Week: +460) (Bet $100 to win $330)

In terms of those advanced metrics, if the award were based solely on that, Jokic would run away with back-to-back MVPs. He leads in win shares, player efficiency rating, plus-minus, and VORP.

I think the only two things keeping Jokic out of the top of the MVP odds right now are Embiid's otherworldly play and the fact that the Nuggets are just struggling to stay above water in the West playoff race. They have hovered around sixth for some time and Denver is only 6-4 in their last 10.

Should Jamal Murray rejoin this team in late March or early April and they make a late push to fourth or fifth in the West, these +330 odds might look silly as Jokic glides into a second MVP.

1. Joel Embiid (+230, Last Week: +350) (Bet $100 to win $230)

Just over two weeks ago, Embiid's odds to win this award were an astonishing +1300. Bettors who bought in at that price are already planning their retirement seeing Embiid skyrockets to the top of the odds based on his play the past month.

Embiid moved from outside the top seven in odds to a comfortable lead for first based on perhaps the most dominant stretch we have seen from a big man this NBA season. In the month of January, Embiid led all players with 34 points per game, was top ten in rebounds with 10.8 per game and also chipped in 5.1 assists. Granted that this was only one month, but there are only two players in history who have produced a line like that for a season: Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.

Over the past several weeks, other players and coaches have been comparing Embiid's game to Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to name a few. When you start getting mentioned with the elite of the elite centers in NBA history, perhaps you do deserve some MVP love.

He has brought the 76ers within one game of the Eastern Conference lead, and this looks like a team that could make a deep playoff run even without Ben Simmons.

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NBANFL

Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.

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