NBA MVP odds: Curry falls from top spot amid career-worst slump
For the first 30 games of the season, Stephen Curry appeared to be on a collision course with his third MVP trophy. Then came the worst slump of his 13-year career, breaking open a wild race halfway through the NBA season.
Curry dropped from the top spot this week and has the third-shortest odds to win the award as of Friday afternoon. Oddsmakers have installed Giannis Antetokounmpo as the slim favorite to win his third MVP in four seasons, while Joel Embiid is closing the gap with his stellar play this month.
Here's a look at every player priced shorter than 150-1 to win this year's MVP award, courtesy of Barstool Sportsbook:
Both Antetokounmpo and Embiid seem to have separated themselves from Curry, who may have finally snapped out of his lengthy slump with a 29-point effort in Thursday's win over the Timberwolves.
The Warriors star finished 6-of-10 from three in that game, marking the first time since late December that he's shot better than 50% from deep. Curry has shot a puzzling 31.7% from three and 37.5% overall since Christmas Day, and while the NBA's all-time 3-point leader can resuscitate his MVP candidacy at any moment, he's still mired in the worst shooting month of his career.
That lengthy cold spell opened the door for Antetokounmpo to build upon his dominant campaign. The two-time MVP has done it all this season, averaging an unmatchable 28.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists while playing 45% of his minutes at center for the injury-riddled Bucks. He's also getting to the line at a career-high rate (58.2%) and has a higher block rate (4.4%) than in either of his MVP seasons.
Embiid finished as the MVP runner-up a year ago, and he's taken his game to a new level this season without his disgruntled running mate. The 7-footer boasts career highs in points (28.9) and assists (4.3), the latter ranking second on the team. Incredibly, he also leads the league in usage rate (36.6%) alongside a career-low turnover rate (11%), which speaks to his impact as a primary playmaker for the 76ers.
Don't forget about reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who is lurking in the fourth spot despite arguably the best stat line of any player in the league. The Nuggets big once again leads the NBA in PER (33.1), win shares (8.8), box plus-minus (14.2), VORP (5.7), and just about any other metric you can find. We've seen this before: Jokic led all of those stats for most of last season but wasn't installed as the favorite until late, so there could be value on a repeat performance.
And then there's Ja Morant, who leads the league in highlight dunks and dazzling buzzer-beaters with a stat line to support it. The Grizzlies star has also been the catalyst for the NBA's biggest surprise story, guiding Memphis to the league's third-best record (33-17) as of Friday. The third-year phenom has narrative on his side and is an intriguing long shot if his team can sustain its early success.
At this rate, any of those five players can win it, making for one of the more compelling MVP races in recent memory. Three of them already have a trophy on their mantle, which could tilt the narrative advantage toward Embiid and Morant, but all five have the talent to pull away from the pack over the second half of the season.
C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at email@example.com.