Joel Embiid Surges Ahead of Nikola Jokic in NBA MVP Race
Posted on: March 21, 2023, 09:40h.
Last updated on: March 22, 2023, 06:43h.
With less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid emerged as the new betting favorite to win the NBA MVP at -240 odds, jumping ahead of two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic at DraftKings.
Jokic, the NBA All-Star center from the Denver Nuggets, had been the betting favorite since early January. At the time, Jokic was +170 odds to win the MVP for the third-consecutive season, according to DraftKings’ NBA awards board. Jokic moved ahead of Luka Dončić from the Dallas Mavericks, who was second on the board at +250 odds and the consensus MVP favorite in the preseason.
|NBA MVP Candidate||Current Odds||1/13/23 Odds|
In early January, Milwaukee Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum were both +500 odds and tied for third in the MVP race. Embiid was fifth overall at +1400 odds but made a huge jump in the last three months to -240.
Tatum is currently an MVP long shot at +1000 odds, and Dončić is a moon shot at +50000 odds.
Joel Embiid (-250) Chasing First MVP
Embiid took over the lead for the scoring title by averaging 33.6 points per game this season. He’s been on a heater in March, averaging 36.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. He has the second-best PER rating in the NBA at 31.60.
Embiid dropped 42 points against the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of 2023, which set a tone for the 76ers. They went 27-9 since the start of the new year, including a 14-4 clip over their last 18 games.
The 76ers defeated the Nuggets in late January, but it was a statement game for Embiid, who exploded for 47 points, 18 rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. It wasn’t a coincidence that his best performance of the season occurred against the reigning MVP Jokic.
Embiid believes he got cheated out of the MVP last season. He had a strong argument as to why, but voters rewarded Jokic because the Nuggets were ravished with injuries. After a speculator run in March, Embiid jumped to the top of the awards board, which is why he’s the favorite to win his first MVP at -240 odds.
Rare Three-Peat Slipping Away from Jokic (+250)
Jokic averages 24.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 9.9 assists per game this season. He’s ranked #2 in the league in rebounds and fourth in assists. He leads the NBA with a 31.71 PER rating and is on pace to lead the league in that advanced metric for the third consecutive season.
Jokic’s scoring and rebounds are down this season compared to last season’s career highs of 27.1 points and 13.8 rebounds per game. His assists are up this year, with a career-best 9.9 dishes per game. He’s also shooting better than last season in all three categories, with a career-high 63.4% from the floor, 39.4% from 3-point range, and 81.8% from the free-throw line.
Jokic is a triple-double machine leading the NBA with 28 this season. He tallied more triple-doubles than the next three players combined (27).
If Jokic wins the MVP, he’ll become the 10th player in NBA history to win the prestigious honor at least three times. Only three players won the MVP in three consecutive seasons. If Jokic can pull off that rare feat, he’ll join an exclusive club that includes Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird.
Jokic saw his MVP odds dip to +250, coinciding with a horrendous slump by the Nuggets, who went 1-5 in early March.
The Nuggets were far ahead of everyone else in the Western Conference and close to locking up the #1 seed, but they let their foot off the gas in recent weeks. They still hold a 3.5-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies, but they’ve been playing their worst ball of the season.
Greek Freak (+450) Still in Striking Distance
Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-high 31.3 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game this season. He’s currently ranked third overall in rebounds and fifth overall in scoring. He’s ranked #4 in the NBA with a 28.74 PER rating.
Antetokounmpo will get some MVP votes because some voters seek to reward the best player on the best team. The Bucks have the best record in the NBA at 51-20, and they became the first team to reach the 50-win mark. When Antetokounmpo won the MVP in back-to-back years, the Bucks also had the top record in the NBA in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Antetokounmpo is currently third on the MVP betting board at +450 odds. He’ll need to stuff the stats sheet in the final 11 games if he expects to leapfrog ahead of both Embiid and Jokic.
There’s also a strong chance that head coach Mike Budenholzer rests Antetokounmpo and other starters in the season’s final week as soon as they clinch the #1 seed to preserve their health for the playoffs. The Bucks hold a 2.5-game lead over the Boston Celtics (49-23) and have a three-game edge over the 76ers (48-23).
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