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NBA MVP Odds Update: It’s Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic Down the Stretch

The NBA MVP race is down to a two-man race according to oddsmakers. Can Joel Embiid hold off Nikola Jokic for his first MVP award? Ryan Kirksey takes a look at the updated NBA MVP odds.
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NBA MVP Odds Update: It’s Joel Embiid vs. Nikola Jokic Down the Stretch

The NBA MVP race is down to a two-man race according to oddsmakers. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid will battle head-to-head in the final three weeks. Can Embiid hold him off for his first MVP award?

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Luka Doncic NBA MVP Odds: (+5000, Previous: Unranked) (Bet $100 to Win 5000)

Doncic joins the top five for the first time in months on the back of the Mavericks playing outstanding basketball and moving up to fifth in the West after an 8-2 run including wins over the Nets, Celtics, Jazz, Heat, and Warriors twice.

The leader of that charge, of course, is Doncic. In the 11 games he has played beginning with the Miami Heat on February 15th, all he has done is average 32 points, 10.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and shoot 47% from the floor. That includes almost 10 three-point attempts per game. He is playing such an incredible basketball right now that if they were matched up against the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, I would not hesitate to bet on a Dallas win.

The overall dominance of the top three on this list plus Doncic missing 16 games this year will keep him out of the number one spot for the award this year, but his time is coming. He is so talented for someone who just turned 23 years old and it's scary to think he could keep improving in seasons to come.

Ja Morant NBA MVP Odds: (+4200Previous: +3000) (Bet $100 to Win $4200)

Don't let the fact that Morant falls sharply to +4200 convince you that he is not still anything but elite. He sat out two of the last 12 games, but in the other 10, he is averaging 32.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.5 steals + blocks. Over that span, only Kyrie Irving and Giannis score more points per game than Morant.

What's most incredible about Morant's improved game this year is he actually gained efficiency. Despite taking more than five shots per game than he did in 2020-2021, his field goal percentage went up 5% and his three-point percentage went up 4%. His true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage are also career highs despite the increased shots and increased minutes per game.

But don't feel too bad for Morant. He already has another award all but locked up. He is now -1200 to win Most Improved Player and it would be an absolute shock if anyone else won it, even if Morant were to sit out the rest of the year. Oddsmaker and voters agree here and seem to be content to let that be Morant's hardware this year. In future years? I think an MVP award is certainly on the table for the 22-year-old.

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Giannis Antetokuonmpo NBA MVP Odds: (+1000, Previous: +850) (Bet $100 to Win $1000)

You know you have an incredible MVP race on your hands when the face of the league averages 29.8 points on 55% shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.5 steals + blocks over a season and his MVP odds keep lengthening to the point where he is +1000 to win the award.

The Bucks also have rolled out a 10-game stretch where they went 8-2 to move up to second in the Eastern Conference. They now average the most points per game in the league (114.9) and are finally fully healthy at the right time with Brook Lopez joining the rotation.

The best I can figure is this is a case of "let someone new get the award" since Giannis is already a two-time MVP at age 27. But he certainly has a case for the award even if oddsmakers don't think he has a shot at it this late in the season. These three guys (plus Morant!) may be battling for MVP awards for the next half-decade in what is one of the most star-heavy periods we have seen in NBA history.

Nikola Jokic NBA MVP Odds: (+150, Previous: +170) (Bet $100 to Win $150)

Jokic at +150 is the best odds you can find on him in the sportsbooks these days. But several of them list The Joker at +120 to +130, so this race is closer than it may seem on the surface. When you dig into the numbers, it is absolutely fascinating how close this race is and the voting is bound to be just as interesting.

Both Jokic and Embiid are top-four in PER, Win Shares, WS/48 minutes, Plus-Minus, and Value Over Replacement Player. Except for the three-point percentage, Jokic's numbers are all equal or better than when he ran away with the MVP race last season. It's just the Nugget's season-long inconsistency that is dragging down his case.

However, the Nuggets are now 7-3 in their last 10 and have assigned Jamal Murray to the G-League with the intention of getting him back for a few games before the season ends. The Nuggets are just 1.5 games out of fourth place in the West and have eight of their last 12 games remaining at home to make a final case. Oddsmakers and voters may eventually side with the shiny new toy in Joel Embiid, but Jokic is certainly making it interesting.

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Joel Embiid NBA MVP Odds: (-120, Previous: +100) (Bet $120 to Win $100)

Embiid and the 76ers did lose the head-to-head matchup with the Nuggets in Philadelphia last week, but Embiid emphatically stated his case for the MVP in that game. Guarding the reigning MVP all game, Embiid still dropped 34 points on 55% shooting (including 3-for-3 from three), nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.

It's those types of performances plus the 76ers ascension in the playoff race that should give Embiid this award for the 2021-2022 season. He is now leading the association in scoring and has career-highs in rebounds, assists, and three-pointers per game. But an often overlooked part of Embiid's game this year is his vastly improved turnover rate. At 10.9%, it is almost two full percentage points lower than any other season in his career. He is dominating in all facets of the game, including taking care of the ball.

He now has the 76ers within one game of the second spot in the Eastern playoffs after an 7-3 stretch. Plus the 76ers have head to head matchups remaining against both the Bucks and the Heat to make their case for the best team in the conference. All Embiid is doing against those two teams is averaging 28.3 points and 13.8 rebounds in four games against those teams this year.

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-110Joel Embiid
+170Nikola Jokic
+850Giannis Antetokounmpo
+2800Ja Morant
+4000DeMar DeRozan
+5000Luka Doncic
+6500Stephen Curry
+12500Devin Booker

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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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