NBA MVP Odds 2022: Favorites, Contenders, Improbable Winners

NBA MVP Odds

With the NBA coming to a close soon, the NBA MVP race is heading towards the finish line. In one of the closest races ever, there are still a variety of players who can realistically claim the prestigious award. Will Giannis win a 3rd MVP? Will Jokic repeat? Can Embiid finally break through and claim MVP? The top ten favorites can be categorized into Favorites, Still In the Race, or Realistically Out.

NBA MVP Odds 2022

Favorites

Joel Embiid’s monster season has him sitting as the favorite for MVP at +130. He leads the league in scoring with 29.6 PPG while also grabbing 11.2 RPG and facilitating 4.5 APG. He’s making nearly half his shots (49.5 FG%) and showing off his expanding range (1.3 threes per game on 36.9 3PT%). Embiid leads the NBA this season in 30-point games, 40-point games, and is tied in 50-point games. Defensively, Embiid adds 1.4 BPG and 1.0 SPG and is one of the best rim protectors. Even though he has the highest usage percentage, he’s remained highly efficient while playing 46 of 58 games. Teams know he will get the ball, but Embiid’s size and skill make him unstoppable. The 76ers are 3rd in the competitive Eastern Conference and only 2.5 games back of 1st. In a crucial win over the Bucks on February 17th, Embiid triumphed over MVP-rival Giannis with 42 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists. The 76ers play the Nuggets for the last time on March 14th. A statement win against Nikola Jokic would aid Embiid tremendously in this race. Because of his two-way dominance and team success, Embiid is a top contender to win MVP. 

If Nikola Jokic was not the reigning MVP, he would be the favorite for the award. Voter fatigue is a factor to look out for. However, his play this season has been so transcendent that Jokic may overcome this obstacle. The only player to ever average at least 25 PPG, 13 RPG, and 6 APG in NBA history? Nikola Jokic this season at 26.0 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 7.9 APG on 57 FG% and 37.2 3PT%. Jokic is the complete offensive package; he can score from anywhere on the court while being perhaps the best playmaker in the NBA regardless of position. The advanced stats absolutely love Jokic this year; he is 1st in virtually every single one. Jokic is on pace to record the highest PER ever seen in a single season. In addition to his offensive genius, Jokic leads the NBA in Defensive Box Plus Minus while contributing 1.3 SPG and 0.7 BPG. The Nuggets are 6th in the West with a 33-25 record. Jamal Murray hasn’t played a single game, and Michael Porter Jr only appeared in nine games before a season-ending injury. The fact that the Nuggets are the 6th seed with Will Barton and Aaron Gordon as the 2nd and 3rd option speaks volumes to Jokic’s impact. They are both solid role players, but they are assuredly not drivers of team success. With a relatively easy remaining schedule, the Nuggets can boost their team success and Jokic’s MVP odds.  

As a two-time winner, Giannis Antetokounmpo is no stranger to the MVP award. If voter fatigue does not affect Jokic, it will certainly affect Giannis, winner of the 2019 and 2020 MVP. He is one of the three favorites, but he is very slightly behind Embiid and Jokic. On the season, Giannis is averaging 29.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 6.0 APG on 54.7 FG% with 1.4 BPG and 1.0 SPG. He’s one of the deadliest weapons on defense also since he is capable of guarding any section of the court with his length and quickness. In the seven games before the All-Star break, Giannis ramped up his production to 33.4 PPG, 11.4 RPG, and 7.3 APG. In order to catch Embiid and Jokic, Giannis will need to end the season strong with a great team record. They are 5th in the East at 36-24, and they have one of the hardest remaining schedules left. This difficult stretch can actually be beneficial to Giannis if he dominates the stiff competition. Giannis will get one more chance against Embiid on March 29th in a game that could help define the optics of the MVP race. If the Bucks do not improve from the 5th seed, Giannis will have a hard time making his case against Embiid and Jokic.

Still In The Race

Stephen Curry was the clear favorite early in the season; however, his efficiency dropped off significantly. He’s shooting a career low from the field (42.7 FG%) and from three (37.9 3PT%). Despite his somewhat average shooting, Curry is still producing 25.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 5.3 RPG for the season. His defense has improved throughout his career, and now he contributes 1.4 SPG on solid defense. Curry has team success going for him; the Warriors are 2nd in the West with a 42-17 record. To pass the top contenders, Curry must build off his All-Star Game performance (50 points on 16/27 from three) and torch the NBA from deep. The Suns have a huge 6.5 game lead on them for the 1st seed, so catching them would solidify Curry’s argument. Without an offensive explosion down the stretch, Curry is unlikely to win the award. He still has a chance though, especially considering how hot Curry can get from three. 

Ja Morant was not supposed to be in this conversation this season, but he’s shattered all expectations. Morant’s averaging 26.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 5.8 RPG on 49.5 FG%. Offensively, he puts extreme pressure on the rim with his handles and athleticism. Going into the All-Star break, Morant produced a dominant double-double of 44 points and 11 assists. It’s unrealistic to expect that on a consistent basis, but he needs to have similar games to vault himself in the race. The surprising Grizzlies are 3rd in the West with a 41-19 record. They have a ton of young talent, but Morant is carrying the Grizzlies on his shoulders. The Grizzlies have one of the easiest remaining schedules left, so Morant’s statistical dominance combined with a great closing record could be enough to warrant strong consideration for MVP. 

DeMar DeRozan is the main offensive threat for the rejuvenated Bulls. Going into the All-Star break, DeRozan broke Wilt Chamberlain’s record for consecutive 35+ point games with at least a 50 FG%. Wilt accomplished this six games in a row, while DeMar is at seven with the streak still active. In his last ten games, he is averaging 35.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 5.8 APG on 57.2 FG%. These are not empty stats; the Bulls are 7-3 in their last ten games. For the season, DeRozan is averaging 28.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 5.1 APG on 51.7 FG%. Overall, the Bulls are tied with the Heat for 1st in the East. Their remaining schedule is extremely difficult, but it gives DeMar a chance to prove himself against top contenders and claim the award. If DeMar continues this streak, he has a great chance to launch himself into the Favorites category. 

Luka Doncic is carrying the Mavericks without another co-star. He’s averaging a near triple-double at 27.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 9.0 APG. Entering the All-Star break, Luka scored 40+ points in three of his last four games, including a 28-point first quarter against the Clippers. In the Mavericks win over the Pelicans last game, Luka produced 49 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists. Luka’s shooting has improved recently, especially from three. If he can stay hot from deep, he will have an all-time stretch of games to finish off the season. The Mavericks are 5th in the West at 35-24 in spite of Luka being the only All-Star on the team. They are 1.5 games behind the 4th seed and 5.5 games behind the 3rd seed. Luka’s case would be strengthened if the Mavericks can clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs.

Realistically Out

Devin Booker has been under the radar this season. He is averaging 25.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 4.5 APG, but he has not done anything special recently. His jump in odds has more to do with Chris Paul’s injury than with his level of play. Chris Paul is out 6-8 weeks, so Booker will get his chance to shine as the unquestioned leader of the team. It’s possible Booker scorches the NBA to close the season, but extremely improbable he can position himself as the MVP. The perception of the Suns is that Chris Paul is the driving force behind their success, not Booker. It will be difficult to shake this perception, even if the Suns continue to win. His lack of eye-popping stats and Paul’s status as the leader makes it hard to consider him viable to win. The team record is there – 1st in West 48-10 – but it will not be enough to vault him over a list of worthier players. 

Chris Paul would have been in the hunt, but his injury effectively shuts down his case. Paul is out 6-8 weeks, which gives him only a few games in the regular season to play at best. Even if Paul was not injured, he was not likely to win MVP. However, there still was a chance, so this injury is terrible timing for Paul. At least he will likely be back in time for the playoffs. 

Kevin Durant had a strong case as the MVP, but injury struck it down. He’s only played in 36 of 59 games, and we still do not know when he will return. He was playing at an MVP-level, but it’s too late for Durant to make up the ground lost since he has simply missed too many games. He was averaging 29.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.8 APG on a 52/37/89 shooting split before the injury. 

I am a junior at the University of Pennsylvania with a sports analytics background. My focus revolves around the analytics behind fantasy football and sports betting. I am interested in the identification and breakdown of trends that optimize success in the sports betting world.

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