Early 2023 NBA MVP Odds: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates
Early 2023 NBA MVP Odds: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates
With the NBA Draft behind us and 2022 free agency on our doorstep, there is still plenty of moves left to be made before the 2022-2023 season tips off. But those unknowns can give us some peak value in regards to MVP odds. Here are the top 10 candidates that oddsmakers feel are most likely to win the NBA MVP award next year.
LeBron James (+3000) (Bet $100 to win $3000)
Due to a variety of reasons - mostly teammate injury and ineptitude - Lebron James averaged the second-most points in his career in 2021-2022 (30.3 per game). That's really saying something considering of the atrocious Cleveland teams from early in his career. He was still fourth in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and fifth in overall plus-minus. But at age 38 next season, and with reinforcements likely on the way, the LeBron James MVP days are likely over. He still may be the overall most talented player in the NBA even at his advanced age, but he hasn't played more than 67 games in a season since 2018 and plenty of the other players on this list are still on the ascent.
Devin Booker (+2800) (Bet $100 to win $2800)
History will likely soon forget, but Devin Booker placed fourth in the 2021-2022 MVP voting, right behind the big three of Jokic, Embiid, and Antetokuonmpo. His 26.8 points per game were a career-high and he carried the Phoenix Suns to the best record in the NBA, even with Chris Paul missing more than six weeks. He also had otherworldly clutch numbers last season when the Suns were in close games, driving some of the mystique of his incredible season. If teammate Deandre Ayton leaves in a trade, that could open up more shots for Booker, but his lack of contributions in the other offensive statistics will likely keep him shut out from the award for at least another year.
Ja Morant (+1600) (Bet $100 to win $1600)
Last season's Most Improved Player looks like an excellent darkhorse pick to win the 2023 NBA MVP award after an incredible leap from his second to third seasons. Last year, Morant increased his points per game by more than eight, his rebounds by almost two, as well as shooting the highest from the floor during his three years. It all led to a surprisingly strong year for the Grizzlies and positioned Morant as one of the top players in the league. Morant finished the year top-10 in PER and plus-minus and had the most drives to the basket of any NBA player. Assuming he holds onto the gains from last year, he is definitely worth a speculative bet at these odds.
Jayson Tatum (+1500) (Bet $100 to win $1500)
Tatum has some reputation rebuilding to do after turning in some awful performances in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. After the first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, many were talking about Tatum as a top-four NBA player, and through about May he certainly was. His season averages looked very much like a prime Kevin Durant with 26.9 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and a steal per night. But after shooting just 36.7% in the NBA Finals and 65.6% from the free throw line, Tatum's numbers against Golden State looked nothing like the regular season. Tatum absolutely has the talent to win this award, but with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford also eating into the offensive pie, Tatum's usage might not be enough to get him over that hump.
Steph Curry (+1400) (Bet $100 to win $1400)
The two MVP awards Steph Curry won in 2015 and 2016 are likely to remain the only two of his career, but Curry certainly has momentum on his side as he will enter 2022-2023 as NBA champion once again and the Warriors could be losing some key offensive pieces to free agency. Despite how good his season was last year, he did not place top-10 in PER, win shares, or value over replacement player (VORP). He was ninth in overall plus-minus but several other MVP candidates far outpaced him. With a full season from Klay Thompson coming and Curry now entering his age 35 season, the MVP days are sure to be only in the past.
Nikola Jokic (+1200) (Bet $100 to win $1200)
Back-to-back MVP winner Nikola Jokic curiously finds himself with just the fifth-best odds to win the award again. Even shopping around, you can't find Jokic for lower than +900 as we sit here on the cusp on July. Jokic led the league in so many advanced stats last season: PER, win shares, VORP, plus-minus, and win shares per 48 minutes. Considering how dominant he has been over the last two years (2022: 27 points, 14 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.5 steals per game), I would take Jokic's odds to win in a heartbeat over players like Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Even with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. likely to return next season, Jokic is a player just getting started in his prime and he could find another level if he were to tick up to 35-36 minutes per game.
Kevin Durant (+1200) (Bet $100 to win $1200)
Despite missing 27 games with injury, Durant deserves tremendous amounts of credit for his level of play just two years removed from Achilles surgery and for carrying a dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets franchise with 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. The biggest question for Durant's game next year is are there enough basketballs to go around for him, Kyrie Irving (who recently opted back into the Nets for next year), and 2022 holdout Ben Simmons. It could be another year of dysfunction in the Barclay Arena. At +1200 I would much rather take a stab at Jokic or throw a dart at Morant before dropping money on Durant.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700) (Bet $100 to win $700)
Giannis is in the top-three among oddsmakers right where he belongs. He remains the league's most dynamic and gifted player, and a case could be made he should have won his third MVP last season. As he enters his age 28 season (his 10th in the league), it remains clear that no one player can stop Giannis on the basketball court, and there is no one player whom Giannis can not guard. He is a physical freak of nature who was second to Jokic in all of PER, win shares, WS/48 minutes, plus-minus, and VORP last season. Now with a chip on his shoulder after losing to Boston in the playoffs, look for an all-time great season incoming for the Greek Freak. I love the value here at +700.
Joel Embiid (+600) (Bet $100 to win $600)
Many believe the Joel Embiid should have won the award in 2022, and he did finish a close second to Jokic in the MVP voting. Embiid led the league in scoring (30.6 points per game), and also chipped in 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.6 steals + blocks per game. And he did that all in under 34 minutes per night, the only player in the top six of MVP voting to go under that mark. Embiid also thrived when James Harden came to town and morphed into an assists and fast break master for Philadelphia. With not much separation between the top three candidates in terms of their odds, Embiid is my pick for MVP in the 2022-2023 season.
Luka Doncic (+500) (Bet $100 to win $500)
One of the primary reasons I think Embiid will take the award over Luka Doncic next season is it seems likely Doncic is not going to have Jalen Brunson on his wing to share the offensive load next season. If Brunson flees to New York, it will fall on Doncic and recent addition Christian Wood to shoulder that burden. In terms of usage, efficiency, plus-minus, and win shares, Doncic is a top-three player all day long. By no means is he a bad pick for the MVP award. He will certainly win one some day, but I think that day is one more year away when Doncic will have evolved into a truly transcendent player in today's NBA. But he is the MVP favorite for a reason. No other player will have a higher usage or have the ball in his hands more than Doncic next year. That fact alone might make him worth the +500 risk before the season starts.
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.