- FanDuel and DraftKings favor Joel Embiid in a tight NBA MVP race
- Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry all closely follow the Cameroonian
- What’s the best bet as we near the All-Star break?
We are in the midst of one of the best MVP battles in recent memory. Kevin Durant has fallen from contention due to injury, but this is truly a four-horse race as the All-Star break nears. Joel Embiid is favored at FanDuel and DraftKings with odds of +230 and +200 respectively, while Nikola Jokic’s NBA MVP odds are +330 and +300 at the same books.
The two big men dueled for the award last season with availability ultimately the Joker the edge. They are not alone this year. Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo are just behind them – both sit in the +400 range at FanDuel and DraftKings.
2022 NBA MVP Odds
Odds as of Feb 1st at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wide Open MVP Race for Season’s Second Half
Books can’t get a grip on this MVP race. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant looked to be pulling away early in the season, but a historic Curry slump and a lengthy Durant injury has seen their odds fade.
LeBron James appeared to be making a push – injury and the Lakers’ poor record cost him. Joel Embiid was an outsider early in the year with inconsistent play and the Sixers unlikely to finish in the top four.
Jamal Murray’s absence and Michael Porter Jr’s season ending injury appeared to leave Nikola Jokic as a longshot. The reigning MVP has been playing at such a high level, though, that he cannot be overlooked. Denver is in the mix for homecourt advantage in the first round, and advanced analytics tab Jokic as the best player in the league by an absolute mile.
Nikola Jokic is leading the Nuggets in PTS, REB, AST, STL, BLK, FG%, TS% this season.
He is playing without his 2nd and 3rd best players and the Nuggets are 7 games over .500.
Clearly the MVP frontrunner. pic.twitter.com/G5nIRCAjDt
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 31, 2022
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has stayed consistent as second or third favorite throughout the season. Third in scoring and seventh in rebounding with the Bucks at 31-21, Antetokounmpo has closed in since the turn of the year, having been at an average price of +875 just before Christmas Day.
Get the FanDuel Sportsbook Way Too Early Super Bowl 56-1 Promo
Don’t Count Out Steph Curry
Curry shot under 33% from three and scored only 22.3 per game in January. Golden State has slowed up as they have reintegrated Klay Thompson and been without Draymond Green. The fact he’s still in the midst of this MVP race is revealing.
“…and I took that personally.”
Steph to everyone talking about his shooting struggles (probably) pic.twitter.com/1sXV04qrLQ
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) February 1, 2022
He was the consensus favorite just weeks ago, and it looked like a foregone conclusion. This slump would have effectively ended the MVP candidacy for many players. Scoring 29 against Minnesota and 40 against Houston could suggest Curry is breaking out of the longest cold spell of his career.
The Dubs’ record isn’t a concern – that’s not a foregone conclusion with Denver or Philadelphia. Curry is bound to shoot the ball better, too. It’s still possible he leads the league in scoring.
If the shot starts falling and Curry puts together a run of 25+ nights, his MVP odds are going to shorten once again.
Embiid, Jokic Have Limited Margin for Error
Embiid and Jokic are the two favorites despite not being on true contenders; their team performance is a threat to their MVP candidacy. For now, the way they have carried weakened rosters has boosted their case, but if their production drops off even slightly, they could slip towards the play-in and quickly fall out of this race.
Durability is always a worry with Embiid. Even a two-week long injury would be hard to recover from at this point. Jokic has almost double as much WAR at FiveThirtyEight as any other player, yet the Nuggets are only a short losing streak from dropping to seventh.
Going back-to-back is hard, and with such strong competition for the award, Jokic has to maintain this spectacular level of play and finish in the top six to win over enough voters.
The Joker is the better value of the two. He’s already played 200 more minutes than Embiid, and that gap is likely to increase even if Embiid avoids injury for the rest of the year.
Having played at an outrageous level in January, scoring 34 points per game, this is the wrong time to back Embiid. It’s inevitable he cools off over the next few weeks, which should lead to slightly longer odds.
Best Bet for NBA MVP
Curry is the best bet right now. Antetokounmpo is playing at an MVP-level, but the Bucks have been inconsistent of late, and they are clearly not prioritizing regular season play. Jokic might be the most deserving, though another momentous season is going under the radar. Embiid’s price is simply too short.
Rightly or wrongly, team record tends to matter a lot in MVP voting. Neither of the Suns backcourt stars have a compelling case. No team is taking control of the East. With the Grizzlies looking set for a top three spot in the West, though, you can easily talk yourself into Ja Morant at +1000 after scoring almost 30 per game in January.
It’s probably a year early for Morant to get much more than down ballot votes. He’d likely need the Grizz to sneak into the top two.
Providing Curry is coming out of his slump, he has the most straight forward path to winning MVP. He’s got the narrative and the team record. He could yet lead the league in scoring, too.
- Pick: Stephen Curry +410 at FanDuel Sportsbook
The post Updated 2022 NBA MVP Odds: Embiid Favored Over Curry, Jokic & Giannis in Tight Race appeared first on Sports Betting Dime.