- Nikola Jokic has become the NBA MVP favorite with just over a week to go in the regular season
- The Joker topped the latest ESPN MVP poll ahead of Joel Embiid
- Where does the betting value lie? See updated MVP odds below
Nikola Jokic has become the NBA MVP favorite with just a week and a half left to play in the regular season. Joel Embiid had been atop the market for several weeks, but has slipped to +110 in NBA MVP odds at Caesars, allowing Jokic to take top spot. It has long looked like a two-horse race for the award just as it was last season.
Both have similar cases to win the most prestigious individual award in the Association. Jokic has carried the Nuggets to the playoffs without his top two teammates. Embiid put the Sixers on his back without Ben Simmons and has been dominant at both ends since the James Harden trade.
While a compelling argument can be made for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and plenty of other names have been throwing into the ‘MVP conversation’, it’s down to Jokic and Embiid as the season concludes.
2022 NBA MVP Odds
Odds as of March 30th at Caesars Sportsbook
Voters Lean to Jokic
Denver is tied for fifth in the Western Conference and is on a 3-3 run. Nikola Jokic has still made ground in the NBA MVP race. The Serbian continues to put up historically great numbers across the board, and while there was a threat the Nuggets could fall into the Play-In Tournament, they look settled in the top six with just a handful of games to play.
Jokic just dropped 26, 19 and 11 on the Hornets. That followed a 35, 12 and eight night against the Thunder. He’s the only player in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assisting, and the advanced numbers have always made him out to be the clear MVP. His WAR at FiveThirtyEight is up to 20.5 – no other player is above 12.4 in that category, and Embiid is just at 11.0, behind Antetokounmpo.
Could Jokic repeat as MVP? 👀
ESPN polled 100 media members to get their thoughts: https://t.co/bHhBJGahMV pic.twitter.com/0BiptXggyO
— ESPN (@espn) March 29, 2022
The recent change in the odds reflects the results of Tim Bontemps’ poll, which had Jokic with a comfortable lead. A swing towards the Joker also corresponds with the Sixers losing back-to-back games against the Suns and Bucks. Embiid performed well in both games, but part of the case for Embiid winning the award was based on the Sixers’ record. They have dropped to fourth in the East, and they are only two ahead of the Nuggets in the loss column.
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MVP Race Is Not Over Yet
Despite the Sixers’ two close losses to last season’s Finals teams, they could yet claim top spot in the East, which would be the foundation of a case for Embiid to pip Jokic to MVP. If Philly wants to push for the number one seed, they’ve got a strong chance given a very favorable remaining schedule including two games against each of Detroit and Indiana.
These are also games where Embiid could take a step forward in the fierce battle for the scoring title, too. This MVP race is still so close. If Embiid wins the scoring title and the Sixers claim a top-two spot in the East, a lot of undecided voters could yet back him.
Denver has several winnable games along the way, and Jokic is bound to put up some more outrageous numbers, but he remains at a disadvantage in the standings. We know team success matters a lot to a portion of voters – if Denver is sixth and Philly is the East’s top seed, it’s going to be a significant factor for many.
Perhaps the greatest question when weighing up whether to back Embiid right now is about how much the Sixers care about seeding. Do the Sixers want to avoid a potential Nets matchup in the first round? Will Embiid be determined to play every game in his push for individual accolades? Philly has already rested Embiid against Miami, sitting out any further games could effectively end his MVP case. That might sound dramatic, but that’s how close this is.
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