The NBA season ends in just over a week, so time is running out for players to make one final run in the awards markets. And some awards are more locked up than others.
Consider the MVP Award, a race that's been all but decided for nearly a month because of Nikola Jokic's sustained excellence. Is there any value in betting him at a near-certain price? What about the Rookie of the Year market, which has opened up again due to LaMelo Ball's lengthy injury?
Here are the latest odds for the NBA's five major awards, along with our favorite late-season value play, if there's one left.
We've been banging the drum for Jokic since January when he was 8-1 to win the award, and he's been lighting up the league since. The Nuggets center leads all players in win shares (14.5) and win shares per 48 minutes (.301), box plus-minus (11.7), PER (31.1), and just about any stat you can throw out to measure a player's on-court value.
His team also ranks third in the cutthroat Western Conference and is only one game back of the 76ers in the league standings, and Philadelphia has ridden an MVP-level season from Joel Embiid to the top of the East. Yet the star big simply hasn't played enough games for Philly to win this award, nor has he been more efficient than his Denver counterpart.
Will Jokic become this season's MVP? Almost certainly. Is he worth betting at this price? Probably not, which makes the market an easy one to avoid at this stage.
This has been Ball's award to lose since early January when he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. Even a 21-game absence from late March through all of April didn't loosen his grip.
Should it have, though? While Ball is among the top two rookies in points (15.9), rebounds (5.9), assists (6.1), and steals (1.6) per game, he's also on track to play just 51 of 72 contests. That would be only one more than the fewest a Rookie of the Year winner has ever played.
Anthony Edwards, meanwhile, has taken center stage during the second half of the season, averaging 23.1 points with two 42-point games - including one on Wednesday - in his last 26 outings. Some sources consider the Timberwolves' rising star the favorite to win this award, including the NBA's own rookie rankings, making him an obvious play at these odds.
Value: Anthony Edwards (+390)
As of Thursday, Rudy Gobert leads all players in defensive win shares (4.8), and he ranks third among those eligible in defensive rating (101.0), far exceeding Simmons in both areas. He's also played 11 more games than the 76ers star and been the fulcrum of Utah's top-ranked defense.
Gobert has won this award two out of the last three years, and my gut says he'll take it again. At these odds, though, it's hard not to take a small shot on Simmons and hope fatigue sets in for voters.
Value: Ben Simmons (+400)
For the second straight season, two teammates are battling to win the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, which is ironic since only one can be their team's true sixth man. The honor should go to Jordan Clarkson, who has started just one game to Joe Ingles' 24 starts for the Jazz.
Despite coming off the bench in 61 of 62 games, Clarkson has been Utah's second-leading scorer (17.5 points per game), and he's scored in double figures in all but four matchups this year. That's exactly what you want from a leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Here's the problem: Ingles has been a far superior player, which is why the Jazz have started him in nearly half of the games he's played. That means you're leaving this bet up to the voters' interpretation, which is never an ideal spot. Pass on this one.
|Michael Porter Jr.||+1800|
The most unpredictable award every year is also the one with the most obvious winner this season. Julius Randle has transformed from a fringy No. 1 scorer into a bona fide MVP candidate, and he's done that while shouldering a similar load as past seasons.
The issue, of course, is the outlandish price. I'm not sure I'd lay -4500 odds on the sun coming up tomorrow, let alone on the NBA's most ambiguous award. Christian Wood probably won't take this honor, but he's made a sizable leap from his last campaign and is worth a shot at these odds.
Value: Christian Wood (+11000)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.