- Nikola Jokic is the favorite to win the NBA MVP award, with -400 odds.
- Jokic’s candidacy is built around his enormous team impact - he makes the Denver Nuggets 18.6 points better per 100 possessions.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are within striking distance, but Jokic is a deserving winner.
DENVER - Nikola Jokic seems to have locked up a second consecutive NBA MVP award.
The online sportsbooks have him as a prohibitive favorite at this point, with -400 odds to take home the MVP.
Throughout the season, the MVP has been contested between Jokic and two other players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.
Do the online sportsbooks have the right read on the race?
2022 NBA MVP Odds
- Nikola Jokic -400
- Joel Embiid +250
- Giannis Antetokounmpo +500
The Case For Nikola Jokic To Win MVP
Jokic, at the top of the odds boards, has made his name as the best passing big man in the NBA.
He is averaging 26.8 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game, a remarkable run from a center.
Notably, his efficiency is off the charts - he has an Effective Field Goal % of 62.1%, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 32.9.
His on-off metrics form the core of his case. These metrics look at how good a team is when a certain player is on the court, and off the court, as a way of measuring the impact of that player on his team.
When Jokic is on the floor, the Nuggets score 11.5 more points per 100 possessions, and allow 7.1 points less per 100 possessions, meaning he makes his team about 18.6 points better per 100 possessions.
Neither of the other two candidates comes close to Jokic in terms of on-off impact - Embiid improves the 76ers by +10.8 total, while Giannis improves the Bucks by +11.0 total.
In other words, Jokic has the single biggest impact on his team’s performance in the entire league. When he plays, the Nuggets are good. When he sits, they are impossibly bad.
The main argument against a Jokic candidacy is that there are two other incredibly deserving players also in the mix for NBA betting fans to consider.
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The Case For Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid led the league in MVP odds for most of the season and has fallen off down the stretch through no fault of his own.
What looks to have happened is that Embiid was an early favorite because he was new - the only player of the top three to not have won MVP before - but voters gradually realized that there wasn’t much of an argument for him over Giannis or Jokic respectively.
The Embiid case for MVP relied on the fact that he’s scoring 30.2 points per game, putting up elite defense, and carrying the Philadelphia 76ers, an ostensible championship contender.
After James Harden joined Embiid in Philly, however, he was no longer single-handedly carrying his team - a team that has struggled against elite competition recently.
His scoring numbers and defensive impact are still monstrous, but that argument applies better to Giannis than it does to Embiid.
The Case For Giannis Antetokounmpo To Win MVP
The argument for what would be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s third MVP is much more straightforward.
Giannis is a serious candidate to win the Defensive Player of the Year award and is averaging 30.1 points per game on the offensive end, with a higher eFG than Embiid, on arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Fundamentally, Antetokounmpo is a slightly better two-way player than Joel Embiid is, and that has shown up over the course of the season.
However, he has already won two MVPs, and it is undeniable that the MVP voters do not like giving MVPs to the same person over and over.
Jokic is a very deserving leader, but if anyone is getting overlooked here, it’s Giannis, who could make a convincing case for the award, and an even more convincing case for jumping Joel Embiid for second place.
Maxwell joined the USAOnlineSportsbooks team in 2019. He focuses on creating sports betting content that informs and educates. He focuses on the NBA, the NFL, College Football and Basketball, and whatever else comes across his desk.