Just when we think we have an actual favorite to win NBA MVP, the sky opens up and the Gods strike down Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid for 2-3 weeks with a knee injury. That isn’t really a long time, but it’s enough games for DraftKings Sportsbook to make LeBron James the betting favorite again. There was a short period in which Embiid had overtaken LeBron as the favorite to win NBA MVP at +200. James was +250 and Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic was sitting at +450 in third.
Embiid went down before the weekend on Friday and everyone was thinking the worst. Instead, Embiid was diagnosed with a bad bruise which will hold him out at least until the end of March most likely. With the Sixers more concerned about having Embiid 100 percent for the playoffs, we could see the timeline be closer to three weeks. If that’s the case, Embiid could miss up to 8-12 games. In such a close race for MVP, that’s enough missed games to make it difficult for Embiid to beat out LeBron, and even Jokic.
Below is a quick overview of the players with the best odds to win MVP. Really, it’s looking like a 3-man race. The thing that stands out to me is the fact LeBron and the Lakers had been struggling before the break. Jokic feels more like the guy I’d want to throw some money on with the Nuggets playing well.
Statistically, it’s Jokic who is ahead of everyone. His shooting splits are 56/41/87 — something that almost never happens. If he were up in the 60/40/90 range, that would be historic. He had a narrow lead over Embiid in terms of PER at 31.53. So if Jokic leads the way in stats and the Nuggets are on par with the Lakers in the West, why would he not be favored to win MVP over LeBron?
The two names behind the Big 3 are the two players we figured would be the favorites at this point. Doncic and Giannis have a slim chance of overcoming the deficit to win MVP. Is it. possible still? I think so. The Greek Freak probably has a better chance given the Milwaukee Bucks are a better team and are starting to take off.
Antetokounmpo also has a better case statistically than Doncic (and even LeBron) to win MVP. Giannis is fifth in the NBA in scoring and third in PER at 29.44. Milwaukee has won 8 of the past 9 games and a jump up to the No. 1 seed coupled with dominant play would be all Giannis needs to improve his odds.
NBA MVP odds update
LeBron James +160
Nikola Jokic +200
Joel Embiid +600
Giannis Antetokounmpo +1400
Luka Doncic +1400
Stephen Curry +1600
James Harden +1600
Damian Lillard +1800
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