Joel Embiid nearly won the first MVP award of his NBA career this past season. Instead, Nikola Jokic won his second consecutive one.
That might give Embiid more motivation than ever. However, the Philadelphia 76ers center is second in NBA odds for MVP to Mavericks guard Luka Doncic as of Friday, July 1.
And besides those two, plenty of other players who have won MVPs before are within striking distance.
it's a bird, it's a plane, it's JOEL EMBIID. ✈️😏 pic.twitter.com/QwnDLTtVAY
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 29, 2022
NBA MVP Odds
Doncic has the leading NBA betting odds to win MVP at +500 while Embiid is second at +600.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was the league MVP in 2019 and 2020, was third at +700. Jokic, who won the two MVPs following Antetokounmpo, was fifth at +900 while 2014 MVP Kevin Durant is fourth at +850.
|Name||Team||NBA MVP odds (7/1)|
Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic Battling for Top Spot
Since Doncic’s rookie season in 2018-19, he’s been a three-time All-Star.
The 23-year-old tallied 28.4 points per game a season ago on a 46% shooting clip while making 35% from 3-point range and 74% of his free throws. He added 9.1 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
And since Jalen Brunson, who rose to the occasion for the Mavericks in Doncic’s absence, is reportedly headed to the New York Knicks, Doncic may have more burden on him than ever. No other Dallas player averaged more than 15 points per game last year.
Doncic was second in the NBA in usage percentage last season and fourth in player impact estimate, and that was with Brunson available. Unless Dallas adds another star in free agency, which is possible with the potential departures of Durant and Kyrie Irving from the Nets, Doncic’s value may be highlighted.
LUKA DONCIC FROM DEEP TO END THE FIRST HALF.
HE'S GOT 24 ON TNT. pic.twitter.com/hFEI9cAobl
— NBA (@NBA) May 21, 2022
Embiid scored a career- and league-best 30.6 points per game last season. He made 50% of his shots, 37% from deep, to go with 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.
Embiid was second in player impact estimate in 2021-22, behind only Jokic. This was while ranking first in usage percentage.
After dealing with injuries throughout his career, Embiid played a career-high 68 games during the regular season. Availability will likely play a major role in his MVP candidacy.
Talent around Embiid may also matter. If the 76ers retain some combination of James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris as well as add a standout free agent, Embiid’s opportunities to shine might be limited.
However, a stronger team with a substantially better record may also elevate his chances at an MVP trophy if he records only slightly lesser numbers.
🔥 @JoelEmbiid ERUPTED for a 41 point double-double in the @sixers win.
41 PTS | 20 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL
🔥 Embiid has had 41+ points in 3 of his last 4 games! pic.twitter.com/RdftVXyCFA
— NBA (@NBA) April 10, 2022
Former MVP Winners Looming
The MVP award, or at least conversations about voting for it, can often revolve around a player’s narrative.
Winning three or more seems to be becoming tougher because, in part, intrigue may diminish. Players who have never won one might be favored if their cases are similar.
That’s why Antetokounmpo and Jokic may have more difficult times winning the award. No one since Larry Bird in the 1980s has won the award three times in a row. Only LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, arguably the best players to ever live, have won more than two since then.
Doncic and Embiid are clear favorites because they haven’t received the accolade, their teams are probably playoff bound and the production is there. If a tie exists in a voter’s mind, it may go to one of them.
Yet, interestingly, of the 11 players with the best odds to win the 2022-2023 MVP, five have won at least one before. That includes Durant, James and Stephen Curry.
😂 Just a little brotherly love!
Kevin Love gets his revenge on LeBron. pic.twitter.com/3JWq8aUlR9
— NBA (@NBA) March 22, 2022
An up-and-comer like Embiid and Doncic may be a more logical prediction. No one has been selected as the MVP who’s older than 28 years old since Kobe Bryant in 2007-08.
That’s why someone like Ja Morant and Jayson Tatum, who’s odds are both +1400, as well as Devin Booker (+2500) might be intriguing options.
The teams for those three players were in the top two of their respective conferences during the regular season. Also, none of them are older than 25 years old and all three were All-Stars last season.
The MVP race is wide open, but history favors young players who haven’t won it yet.
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