NBA MVP Odds 2022: Luka Doncic Enters Season Again As MVP Favorite

NBA MVP Odds

This past NBA season was one of attrition as the individual award winners and All-NBA nominees were more based on who was able to stay the most healthy during a year of heavy injuries. This was especially true during the postseason as more All-Stars missed significant time due to injuries than ever before. Nikola Jokic was one of the few superstars to play 70+ games last season (he played 72) and he almost shot 50-40-90 to go with 26.4 points and 8.3 assists per game. Jokic may be back in the running to repeat, but Luka Doncic is the current favorite after exploding for 28.8 points per game last season. There are also some awesome values to consider this season.

NBA MVP Odds 2022

Historical Analysis

The MVP is the most illustrious individual award in the NBA and it has a long history of honoring some of the best players of all time. Last season, Nikola Jokic won the award as just the third international player and the first second-round pick in the NBA to win the MVP in the common draft era. 14 players have won the award multiple times, including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo this decade, so there’s some track record that suggests Jokic could repeat this season. Usage rate is one of the most important indicators to predicting MVP contention as players who have the ball in their hands have an easier time racking up points and assists.

Only one player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, has ever won the award without his team making the playoffs – this is a basic pre-requisite to the award. Since 2001, the MVP has been won by a point guard six times (30%), by a shooting guard twice (10%), by a small forward five times (25%), by power forward six times (30%), and by a center once (5%). Jokic was the first center to win since Shaquille O’Neal in the 1999-2000 season. There really isn’t a dominant position group to win this award like there is with quarterbacks in the NFL. Additionally, in an increasingly positionless NBA, there’s not much insight to glean from analyzing the specific position of recent winners.

Luka Doncic is the Favorite

Depending on where you place your bet, the Dallas Mavericks guard is somewhere in the +400s to win the MVP. Doncic was among the favorites for all of last season up until the end when Nikola Jokic ran away with the award and the fourth-year guard should be able to continue to elevate his game. Last season, he averaged 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game and was one of the best offensive players in the NBA despite some overall inefficiency. Doncic’s Mavericks haven’t finished better than the 5th seed in the Western Conference, though, and it will either take a leap in overall statistic production or a top-three seed in the Western Conference for Doncic to break through as the MVP. He’s still just 22 years old, so he has another level to reach as a player, but Dallas didn’t do enough this offseason to improve.

Eastern Conference Leaders

The Eastern Conference presents some of the top candidates for the MVP award this season. Giannis Antetokounmpo had won the award two straight times before Nikola Jokic won last year and is the reigning Finals MVP. He continues to level up his game and is an absolute force of nature on both ends of the floor. He should be right back in the MVP conversation. Kevin Durant is one of the top candidates as well, and he previously won the award in 2014. However, playing with two other All-Stars in James Harden and Kyrie Irving inevitably takes away some of the appeals of KD for MVP voters as he’s not carrying his team. Finally, Joel Embiid could be in for a huge season, especially with a Ben Simmons trade on the horizon. Embiid would have been an MVP candidate season, but he only played 51 games and has never played more than 64 games in a season. His checkered injury history is enough for me to not bet on him to win the MVP.

The Throwbacks

Stephen Curry is still a candidate to win the MVP award and is one of the 14 players who have won it multiple times – he was the MP in 2015 and 2016 and is the only unanimous MVP of all time. The Warriors have a surprisingly young roster for a team looking to compete for a championship and the return of Klay Thompson is still a major question mark. However, if Curry can take the Warriors back to title contention with a top-three seed in the West, he’ll be a strong candidate for MVP. LeBron James will still be in the conversation for the award but he’s getting up there in age and minutes played. LeBron will likely cede too much of the regular season production to Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook to be considered for MVP. Damian Lillard has never won the award, but he could be in the conversation as a lifetime accomplishment player who has been one of the NBA’s best guards for the better part of the past decade. Nikola Jokic should be in the conversation once again as one of the best big men in the NBA. A unique playmaking ability for his size makes him one of the most difficult players to defend against in the league.

Dark Horses

Trae Young is a sleeper candidate for MVP after a miraculous postseason run that included him having 28.8 points and 9.5 assists per game in 16 postseason contests. He has arrived as one of the most talented guards in basketball and his further ascension is not only possible but is now expected. Jayson Tatum could be in the MVP conversation depending on how successful the Celtics are this year. Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell, two of the best young guards in the NBA, could insert themselves in the race as well. Paul George is potentially my favorite dark-horse candidate, though, as public perception around him seems to be changing. George finished third in MVP voting a couple of years ago and is coming off a stellar postseason run. With Kawhi Leonard likely out for the entirety of the regular season, George is set to see a huge usage rate and could be an MVP finalist if the Clippers succeed with a strong record.

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. As the United States embarks on an exciting journey towards the legalization of sports betting, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to cover industry news, NFL and NBA odds, and more.

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