Joel Embiid New NBA MVP Favorite: But Will He Win?
Things change quickly in the NBA and never more so than this year in the race for the league’s top award: Most Valuable Player.
Just when it appeared Denver’s do-it-all, triple-double machine Nikola Jokic was set to become just the fourth player to claim three consecutive regular-season MVP trophies – joining Bill Russell (1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63), Wilt Chamberlain (1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68), and Larry Bird (1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86) – Sixers star Joel Embiid has stormed into the lead.
Now, he’s the heavy betting favorite to win it.
Well, Embiid has been historically awesome during Philadelphia’s last nine games (8-1). In Monday’s double-overtime loss to Chicago, Embiid scored 37 points on 11-of-22 shooting, giving him 10 straight games with 30 points or more on at least 50% shooting.
That’s the second-longest streak in NBA history. Embiid can tie some dude named Shaq on Wednesday in a rematch with the Bulls. O’Neal accomplished his feat in the 2000-01 season, when Sixers legend Allen Iverson took home his one and only MVP award.
Jokic, meanwhile, has been flirting with triple-doubles (recording two) in each of Denver’s last seven games. Problem is, the Nuggets are just 2-5 in those games, losing their lead for the best overall record.
But, c’mon, is that really his fault?
I think the biggest reason for Embiid’s surge is Philly’s record, but most importantly, some voters might secretly want someone else to win to prevent Jokic’s three-peat, and Embiid, the MVP runner-up the past two seasons, is certainly deserving.
The money that’s poured in on Embiid is eye-catching though and those who predicted back on Nov. 1, 2022, that Joel would catch fire late in the season and make an MVP run are in for a nice payday if it comes in.
Embiid’s odds were +1600 then.
Let’s take a look at bonuses offered by three of our favorite major betting sites – FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, and BetMGM – and where Embiid’s odds stand as of Tuesday evening, March 21. Remember, on March 10, less than two weeks ago, Embiid was at +450.
Only listing the top three choices, because don’t be foolish – this is a three-man race, and upsets rarely happen with MVP awards. (This isn’t March Madness or the Oscars, after all). Could there be collusion among voters? Doubt it Or perhaps a racial bias? (Here’s an interesting take on that since it’s all the rage.)
FanDuel: NBA Regular Season MVP 2022-23
Joel Embiid -165
Nikola Jokic +300
Giannis Antetokounmpo +350
DraftKings: NBA Regular Season MVP 2022-23
Joel Embiid -240
Nikola Jokic +250
Giannis Antetokounmpo +450
BetMGM: NBA Regular Season MVP 2022-23
Joel Embiid -210
Nikola Jokic +275
Giannis Antetokounmpo +450
So as you can see, FanDuel is where you wanna place your bet now on Embiid for the best value.
Could these odds change dramatically in the next few weeks? Sure could.
The Sixers and Nuggets are both back in action Wednesday, March 22. Philly has 11 games left and Denver has 10, so another swing can occur between now and then.
Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond, a former teammate of Embiid’s in Philly, gave SI.com’s Justin Grasso his assessment and prediction:
“The NBA is a unique space. I tend not to comment on those kinds of things because I don't want to be labeled as a guy that has those kinds of opinions. I just play the game and focus on what I focus on. What I can say is Joel is an MVP player. He should be the MVP. He deserves it. I’m praying he gets it and much success to him.”
However, since the 1980–81 season the MVP award has been decided by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
So with all of that said and written, who should you bet on to win?
I’d say at this point it’s Embiid’s to lose but talk to me after the regular season ends on Sunday, April 9.
By then, the MVP race could have taken another dramatic twist … stay tuned.