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NBA MVP Odds Update: It's Joel Embiid's Race To Lose

Joel Embiid opened a slightly smaller lead over Nikola Jokic in the down-to-the-wire race for NBA MVP. Can he do enough down the stretch to lock in the win? Ryan Kirksey breaks down the NBA MVP odds.
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NBA MVP Odds Update: It's Joel Embiid's Race To Lose

Joel Embiid opened a slightly smaller lead over Nikola Jokic in the down-to-the-wire race for NBA MVP. Can he do enough down the stretch to lock in the win?

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Ja Morant NBA MVP Odds: (+10000Previous: +4200) (Bet $100 to Win $10000)

An unfortunate knee injury knocks out any slim chance Morant had at winning this award and puts a damper on an otherwise majestic season that will end with a Most Improved Player award for Morant. In what is much more important to Morant, he now has to hope he can full recover with the playoffs just over two weeks away.

With that news, it's important to reflect on just how incredible his season was. He increased his points, rebounds, steals, and blocks all by more than 25% over last season. His assists went down slightly, but that was because he ball five and a half more times per game than last year while increasing his shooting percentage from 44.9% to 49.3%.

Even with the increased shots and usage, the efficiency was much, much better. His true shooting percentage, offensive win shares, effective field goal percentage, and offensive plus-minus all rose dramatically. It's a sad end to a year that not only saw Morant take the next step to superstardom but also lead the Grizzlies to the second-best record in the NBA.

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

Doncic, unlike Morant, actually saw a dropoff in some of this stats and efficiency this season, but he made up for it by playing almost 36 minutes per game this year. His minutes per game have increased every year in the NBA, and it makes you wonder what will be his upper limit as he reaches his mid-20s and peak basketball years.

Doncic's 28 points, nine rebounds, and almost nine assists per game are unmatched, but the efficiency did suffer. His true shooting, effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, and offensive plus-minus all dropped from last year.

With a strong supporting cast, he has been able to carry the Mavericks to the brink of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. His MVP is likely a year or two away, but it's scary to think about just how good he can eventually be when he puts up these kinds of numbers as a 22/23-year-old this season.

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

Just how unprecedented will it be for Giannis to put up the stats he has this year and not win MVP? Simply put, it's almost unheard of. His averages of 29.7 points (on 55% shooting), 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.5 steals + blocks would have soared to an MVP award in almost any other season.

Looking at advanced metrics, we can just just how amazing it will be when he does not win. Giannis' win share per 48 minutes (WS/48) this season is .289. Not only is that higher than 13 of the MVP winners since the year 2000, but it is also higher than the last time Giannis won the award in 2020! And he is going to finish third! He has 11.9 total win shares on the year which is more than four other MVPs of the last 25 years and he still has nine games to play.

Giannis is simply in the unfortunate position of being caught as a third wheel when all of the narrative and media praise has gone to Embiid and Jokic. There is absolutely nothing about his game that states he should be anything less than the winner of this year's MVP. He just happened to run into two players who have been slightly more valuable.

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

While I am now convinced that Joel Embiid will win MVP this season, I am just as convinced that Jokic would win a back-to-back award if he had Jamal Murray and Michael Porter at this disposal.

Jokic is running out there every night with guys like Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, Austin Rivers, and DeMarcus Cousins playing big minutes every night. As a result, the Nuggets are in the midst of another 5-5 stretch and are in serious danger of falling into the play-in tournament at the expense of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

As a result, Jokic loses a little bit of ground to Embiid in the race for MVP. It's certainly not because of his own play. In his last 10 games, Jokic averages 28 points, 11.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 2.8 steals + blocks. All of this while logging 33 minutes per game and only missing seven games all season. It will go down as a what might have been season for Jokic and the individual accolades. But he still has hope that Murrary and Porter return for the playoffs and help ignite them to a long run.

Joel Embiid NBA MVP Odds: (-155, Previous: -120) (Bet $155 to Win $100)

I have heard and seen some criticism that because Embiid has only played in 59 of Philadelphia's 72 games that he might not be as worthy of winning the award as others who have played 65-70 games. To that I say, you really need to look at Embiid's game log.

After missing a stretch of nine games with injury in November, Embiid has played in 50 of Philadelphia's next 53 games, including 20 of the last 21. He is not taking off nights for back-to-backs, and he is playing the most minutes in his career. And it's only been in the last 12 games or so that he has had any semblance of stat offensive help. Ben Simmons didn't step on the court this year, and Tobias Harris is averaging 2.1 fewer points and 3% less in field goal percentage than with Simmons last season.

This Herculean effort has led the 76ers to one and a half games out of first place in the East with 10 games to play. That tight, three-team race will lead to Embiid playing big minutes during these last two weeks against some inferior opponents against opposing frontcourts. In his 10 remaining games, five of them are against Detroit, Indiana, and Charlotte, all of whom are 23rd or worse in defensive rating, and Detroit and Charlotte are the two worst rebounding teams in the NBA.

Buckle up, because this is going to be a special final stretch for Embiid as he seals the award.

NBA MVP Odds Updated

-155Joel Embiid
+170Nikola Jokic
+1000Giannis Antetokounmpo
+10000Ja Morant
+16000DeMar DeRozan
+5000Luka Doncic
+20000Stephen Curry
+20000Devin 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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