NBA MVP Odds Update: Will Nikola Jokic or Embiid Take Home the Award?

With the last weekend of the NBA regular season upon us, who will take home the MVP in this clash of titans between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic?
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NBA MVP Odds Update: Will Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid Take Home the Award?

This entire season this column has focused on the top five MVP candidates for NBA MVP and their prospects of winning the award. With Luka Doncic (+200000) and Devin Booker (+15000) out of the race completely at this point, I will dive deeper into the top three candidates heading into the last weekend. In particular, we will look at the battle between Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid to see who is the best bet to take home the award next month.

NBA Regular Season MVP Winner Odds

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Giannis Antetokuonmpo NBA MVP Odds: (+800, Previous: +650) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

For all intents and purposes, Giannis is out of the running for the MVP award. It will be a criminal act if he doesn't finish in the top three, but the next two candidates are likely to split some of the first and second-place votes, with the majority of third place going to The Greek Freak.

Antetokuonmpo's win shares and WS/48 minutes are the best since his first MVP award in 2019. He is actually averaging the most points per game of his career this season (29.9) and has an outside shot at the scoring title as well.

But what is most incredible is that Giannis has no realistic shot at the award right now, but his Player Efficiency Rating of 31.9 is his highest ever and is THIRD MOST ALL-TIME! The only problem is, that there is someone further down this list who is even better than Giannis this season. It's worth recognizing that this campaign by Giannis will likely be the greatest season ever by a player to not win MVP. He is second in points per game (29.9), PER, Win Shares, WS/48 minutes, Plus-Minus, and VORP.

It's incredible for us as fans, but unfortunate for Giannis that he put up his best season and a truly all-time NBA season the same year as perhaps the best season in NBA history from another player in the league.

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Joel Embiid NBA MVP Odds: (+300, Previous: +200) (Bet $100 to Win $300)

While the odds have once again shifted slightly in Jokic's favor, this race is likely closer than these odds would have you believe. Let's break down Embiid's case for the award this season:

Points per game: 1st (30.4) Rebounds per game: 6th (11.6) Blocks per game: 9th (1.5) PER: 3rd (31.0) Win Shares: Third (11.7) Plus-Minus: Third (9.1) VORP: Third (6.3) Defensive rating: 8th (105.3) Rebound percentage: 8th (19.1) Team record: 49-31 (8th in the East)

Clearly, this is the resume of an MVP+caliber player. But Embiid suffers from the same affliction as Giannis, which is they just happen to put up all-time seasons in a year when Jokic goes absolutely ballistic in the advanced metrics.

The 76ers will likely finish with a similar record but a higher seed than the Nuggets, just due to the parity at the top of the Eastern Conference. But there is another reason that Embiid may not pull out the award: his now public spat with MVP voters. Embiid came out earlier this week and said if he doesn't win the award, he said "I'll feel like they hate me. I feel like the standard for guys in Philly or for me is different than everyone else."

Those words follow a groundswell campaign for Jokic as his season becomes more and more legendary, but this crusade likely does not help Embiid. He is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons in the last 25 years, but MVP voters also notice how Jokic is carrying the Nuggets on his back all year while putting up the best numbers the NBA has ever seen.

He will get some first-place MVP votes, but these comments might be the nail in the coffin. With Jokic likely to sit on Sunday, however, Embiid has two more chances against the Pistons and Pacers to put an exclamation point on his year.

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Nikola Jokic NBA MVP Odds: (-300, Previous: -185) (Bet $300 to Win $100)

If Jokic does, in fact, sit for the Nuggets' last game. Let's look at his case for the MVP trophy in 2022:

Points per game: 6th (27.1) Rebounds per game: 2nd (13.8) Assists per game: 8th (7.9) PER: 1st (32.9) - and first all time Win Shares: 1st (15.4) Plus-Minus: 1st (13.7) VORP: 1st (9.8) Defensive rating: 5th (105) Rebound percentage: 3rd (23.0) Team record: 48-33 (6th in the West)

Yes, Jokic's Player Efficiency Rating of 32.9 is the most all-time, breaking Wilt Chamberlain's record of 32.1 in 1961-1962. His Plus-Minus of 13.7 will be sixth all-time when the season ends.

Jokic doesn't really talk to make big waves like Embiid is known to do (and has been doing) when he is not on the court. Instead, Jokic has taken a collection of mostly bench guys and castoffs and turned them into a top-six team in the Western Conference. They have played all year without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.

If we take the Win Shares figure literally, the Nuggets would be at around 33 wins without Jokic, or just above where the Lakers are who were just eliminated from the playoffs.

I don't personally give Jokic an edge for the fact that he played 74 games to Embiid's (likely) 69 games. That's not enough of an edge for either player, but attendance is part of the grade for some MVP voters and might tip the scales in Jokic's direction for some. Add in the fact that Embiid had Tobias Harris all season and James Harden for half of it, and other voters might value Jokic's contributions more.

At the end of the day, this is one of the best MVP battles we have had in some time. Certainly, the best one since Harden and Russell Westbrook dueled in 2017. In what might develop into a friendly rivalry that compares only to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain from 60 years ago, this could be the beginning of a series of battles between both of these centers.

NBA MVP Odds Update

+300Joel Embiid
-300Nikola Jokic
+800Giannis Anteokoumpo

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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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