As crazy as it sounds, we are now just one day from tip-off of the NBA season - and in a wide-open season, it will also be a wide open race for the MVP as well.
Betfred Sportsbook recently updated their MVP odds, so we decided to give it a quick look through - and give you the best and worst bets heading into the season.
Below are our best bets and stay aways. You can see the full odds here in the Betfred Sportsbook.
Joel Embiid +700 - The back-to-back runner up MVP looks to take that final leap in 2022-2023 to acquire his first MVP award. Last season Embiid averaged 30.6 ppg, 11.7 rpg, and 4.2 apg, but these are the numbers that you should not focus on. The 21 games in which James Harden was on the floor for the Sixers last season, Embiid was even better, averaging 33.1 ppg, 12.7 rpg, and 3.6 apg.
The addition of a James Harden, who has clearly accepted his role as pass first player and primary ball handler, spaces the floor much more for Embiid and diverts defenders' attention. Except these two to lead the 76ers to a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. I would say +700 is the best you will find Embiid all season.
Jayson Tatum +1200 - The meltdown that was seen in Jayson Tatum during last year's finals has been cycling through the psyche of Jayson Tatum since June 16th. Expect this experience to play a role in a consistent trend we have seen from Tatum throughout his five-year NBA career: An increase in points, rebounds, and assists as each season passes.
Last season Tatum averaged 26.9 ppg, 8 rpg, and 4.4 apg. It’s not just the consistent increase in numbers every season that leads me to believe Tatum has the capability of becoming the MVP; instead, it is the addition of Malcom Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers. Tatum now has a highly capable ball handler and an excellent distributor, something he could not find in defensive savant Marcus Smart. Brogdon's offense prowess allows Tatum to work more off the ball, space the floor and will give him an opportunity to increase his shooting percentages while decreasing his turnovers. The Celtics will pick up where they left off last season and will secure a top 4 seed in the East.
Kawhi Leonard +2800 - In just a day Kawhi Leonard’s odds to win MVP have moved from +3000 to +2800, and I don’t believe these odds will stop moving throughout the season. It’s been easy to forget about Leonard as we have not seen him in a Clippers jersey in 14 months, but his name will quickly be remembered and recycled into the Most Valuable Player conversation.
After tearing his ACL, Kawhi Leonard took a long 14 months to rehabilitate, and reports are that he has significantly bulked up. The last time Kawhi Leonard returned from a crucial leg injury, Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to an NBA championship and secured an NBA finals MVP. Kawhi’s ability to score 30 a night on 50/40/90 shooting and shutdown the opposing team's best player night in and night out gives him the ability to win an MVP award anytime he steps on the floor.
The addition of John Wall to the Los Angeles Clippers does not only edge them into a top 4 seed in the West, but will allow Kawhi Leonard to take higher percentage shots. Expect Leonard's absence to shed light on his value to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Luka Doncic +425 - Don’t get me wrong, Luka is one of the most consistent and prolific players this league has ever seen. My problem is, I have a high concern about the success of his team and Luka’s ability to find high percentage shots. The subtraction of Jalen Brunson will immediately impact Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Taking away an offensive weapon such as Jalen Brunson is going to make Luka’s life much harder in Dallas and allow the defense to divert much more of their attention to Luka. The Dallas Mavericks will make the NBA playoffs but that may not be enough. In the last 25 seasons there have just been two players to win an MVP award on a team who was not a 1-3 seed within their conference. Those two players are Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic who completed historic seasons.
Nikola Jokic +1000 - The NBA will put the jok in Jokic if they award Nikola with a third consecutive MVP award. It is something this association and fans have never been comfortable with. Since 1956 only three players have won back-to-back-to-back MVPs. The most recent being Larry Bird in the 1984-1986 seasons. Nikola Jokic will still put up his normal double double each night, but expect a decrease in his numbers with the return of Jamal Murray. While Jamal Murray is on the floor, Jokic averages 19.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 6.5 apg. The narrative is not on Jokic’s side this season.
Zion Williamson +2500 - This one fires me up. How a player who has only played 85 games in his NBA career has the same or better odds to win the MVP than players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker and Trae Young baffles me. +2500 is way too high for a player who arguably is not the definitive number one on a team consisting of Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum. If Williamson were to win MVP, he would surpass Derrick Rose as the youngest MVP in NBA history. A Derrick Rose who was a definitive number one and led the Chicago Bulls to a 62 win season and number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. This does not even account for the quralls about his health as Williamson has not played more than 61 games in a season. If you’re looking for a sleeper, your money is safer someplace else.