NBA MVP odds: Doncic favored for 2nd straight year, Embiid close behind
For the second straight year, the Mavericks star is the preseason favorite (+450) to win the league's top individual award. Right behind him is Joel Embiid (+550), who finished as the MVP runner-up for two straight seasons, while two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo (+600) is the only other player priced shorter than 10-1.
After receiving each of the last two MVP awards, Jokic (+1000) is tied for the fourth-shortest odds with Celtics star Jayson Tatum (+1000), who broke out with a dazzling postseason before a lackluster NBA Finals. Kevin Durant (+1200), Ja Morant (+1200), and Stephen Curry (+1400) are the only other players with shorter than 20-1 odds to win this year's award.
Doncic is the safest choice given his sky-high usage and incredible production at such a young age, and even at a short price, it's a bet we'd make. But he's not the only value on the board. Here are the current NBA MVP odds at Barstool Sportsbook and a few players we're targeting early in the offseason.
|Wendell Carter Jr.||+50000|
|Jaren Jackson Jr.||+50000|
Jayson Tatum, Celtics (+1000)
It may feel ambitious to price Tatum as a top-five player in the NBA, as these odds suggest, but it suits what we've seen from him over the past 12 months.
The Celtics star was named first-team All-NBA a year ago and quietly finished sixth in MVP voting, just behind preseason favorite Doncic and ahead of fellow young superstar Morant. Then Tatum went on a tear during the postseason, averaging 27 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists before a lousy showing in the Finals.
His performance in that last series will leave a bitter taste in bettors' mouths, but I suspect it'll also light a fire under the 24-year-old to erase the stain of that loss and refine the weaker areas of his game. That could spell an MVP-level season for one of the smoothest scorers in the NBA.
Kevin Durant, Nets (+1200)
We don't even know what team Durant will play on for the 2022-23 season, but whichever club lands the 12-time All-Star will immediately be in the mix for the best record in the NBA, if not priced as the title favorite.
That's a major boon to Durant's MVP candidacy, as voters tend to favor elite players on elite teams. And there's no doubt that, when healthy, Durant is elite. The 33-year-old swingman averaged 29.9 points a year ago - his most since winning MVP in 2013-14 - and added a career-high 6.4 assists on better than 50% shooting for the Nets.
He should put up similar numbers wherever he lands, especially as the de facto No. 1 option for a likely title contender. I'd buy at this number before Durant is officially dealt, as a move to the Suns or Heat should generate massive interest from bettors in his MVP candidacy.
Kawhi Leonard, Clippers (+2500)
It feels like the general NBA community has mostly forgotten about Leonard, who was considered a unanimous top-five talent before tearing his ACL in the 2021 postseason. We haven't seen him play since, which has cooled interest in betting him to win this award.
Should that be the case, though? The Clippers star finished fifth in MVP voting in his first season in L.A. and is arguably the best two-way player in the league, which helps boost his candidacy in a close race. He's also had more than a year to recover from that injury and should be as rested as he's maybe ever been entering 2021-22.
The Clippers figure to be in the mix as one of the NBA's top teams - they're +700 to win the title - and Paul George is clearly better suited as a second option. That leaves Leonard plenty of opportunity to stuff the stat sheet in his long-awaited return and remind everyone just how dominant he can be.
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (+10000)
How in the world is Lillard dealing at this price? Sure, he only played 29 games last year, but much of that came after the Trail Blazers' season was effectively over. And when healthy, the six-time All-NBA star is one of the best guards in the league.
Before last season, Lillard had finished in the top eight in MVP voting in each of the previous four years - peaking at fourth in 2017-18 with a seventh-place finish. That doesn't sound like a player who should be priced as a 100-1 long shot, even after a down year.
Injuries were never really an issue for Lillard before last season, which was the first time he played fewer than 66 games in his 10-year career. With an improved roster around him full of switchable wings and defensive-minded guards, he should be free to post gaudy offensive totals for a team with real playoff ambitions. At this price, I'll take that all day long.