With the 2022-23 NBA regular season wrapping up, the MVP race is coming down to two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and last year’s runner-up Joel Embiid. Embiid was the betting favorite to win his first MVP at -210 odds last week, with Jokic behind him at +275 odds, according to BetMGM Insights. However, after missing Monday night’s game against the Nuggets with a calf injury, Embiid (+125) is now second behind Jokic (+110) to win the MVP.
Jokic went off for another triple-double in a five-point win over the Sixers, recording 25 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. With less than 10 games left in the regular season, Jokic might not look back as he zeroes in on his third-straight MVP. However, Embiid can become the favorite again if he has strong performances against the Bucks this weekend and the Celtics next week.
Below, we have the latest odds from BetMGM on the current favorite to win MVP and discuss the path to success for Jokic, Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
All odds courtesy of BetMGM
|Nikola Jokic, Nuggets||+110|
|Joel Embiid, 76ers||+125|
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets (+110). Jokic is in the driver’s seat to win his third-straight league MVP after producing another triple-double against the Sixers. The two-time MVP has recorded five triple-doubles in March and could easily add another on Thursday night against the Pelicans. With Denver seemingly past its toughest stretch of the season, Jokic and the top-seeded Nuggets should end the season on a positive note in the eyes of the voters.
The 28-year-old center has played at another level all season, and that’s continued in March (26.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game to go along with 64-percent shooting from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range). Between Thursday night’s TNT game against the Pelicans, April 2’s NBATV game against the Warriors, and April 6’s TNT game against the Suns, Jokic has at least three more opportunities to make a statement, and he still has a realistic shot at averaging a triple-double for the season while leading the league in virtually every composite advanced stat.
Joel Embiid, 76ers (+125). Embiid’s MVP odds took a noticeable hit on Monday night after he sat out due to a calf injury. Many basketball fans and analysts were looking forward to the second installment between the two MVP contenders after their first meeting in Philly when Embiid went off for 47 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists.
Even though we didn’t get that matchup in Denver, it still doesn’t take away from what Embiid has done this month for the Sixers. The multiple-time All-Star is averaging 34.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game this month. Embiid also had a 10-game stretch to start March, where he scored 30 or more points. During that stretch, the Sixers had an 8-2 record, which helped them keep a top-three seed and makeup ground on the No. 2 seed Celtics. However, if Embiid wants to become the favorite to win the MVP, he will have a few more opportunities to do so. The Sixers play the Mavericks on Wednesday night, Bucks on Sunday, and the Celtics (April 4) and Heat (April 6) next week. Now granted, there’s a possibility that the Sixers could sit Embiid if they can clinch the No. 3 spot sooner rather than later, but the Sixers can’t think that way, especially with the Cavs only two games behind them in the No. 4 spot.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (+425). If there’s one player who can throw a wrench into the two-man race for MVP, it’s The Greek Freak. Antetokoumnpo is quietly having another MVP season, as the Bucks have the best record in the NBA (54-21). This season, the 28-year-old superstar forward is averaging 31.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game.
Antetokounmpo has played exceptionally well this month, despite missing four games because of injury. He is recording 30.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. For him to win MVP, it would take Jokic and Embiid to have a noticeable dip in production over the next week and the Bucks reaching the 60-win plateau, which is not impossible with seven games left. Still, after Denver beat down the Bucks by 23 points last Saturday, it seems unlikely that Giannis can gain enough momentum to jump both Jokic and Embiid.
At this point of the season, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for bettors to sprinkle a half unit on Jokic and Embiid, as both are plus money and the MVP race will come down to the wire. Jokic is the frontrunner and is currently winning the narrative battle, which has played a role in the odds. However, if Embiid plays well over the next five games, he could easily get back into the driver’s seat and capture his first MVP. He has a distinct advantage over Jokic as the better scorer and defender. You also have to factor in that some voters simply won’t want to vote for Jokic to win three in a row, a feat accomplished by just Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, and Bill Russell. If you want to go all-in, Embiid offers slightly better value, but you can make a strong case for both players.
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