With around 12 games left for each team in the NBA Season, the MVP race has been heating up. At this point in the season, it is usually pretty clear who is most deserving of the MVP award, but with three dominant superstars playing exceptional basketball and leading their teams to the best three records in the NBA, the MVP Race is as close as it has ever been. With a recent surge from the 76ers and a skid from the Nuggets, the NBA MVP odds have seen a change at the top of the board. Denver Nuggets triple-double machine NIkola Jokic has been overtaken by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid as the odds on favorite, and the league leading Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetounmpo is not far behind. Despite the recent movement in odds for the award, leaving a good impression on the voters during the final stretch of the season will be crucial in determining who will ultimately win the MVP.
Nikola Jokic has won the last two MVPs with Embiid just missing out both times despite arguably having a better overall season, causing major debates over who was most deserving. This is now the third straight year that both Jokic and Embiid have been at top of the MVP ladder and this might finally be the year that Embiid wins it. The MVP is a regular season award without any strict guidelines or prerequisites to win the award, making it difficult to predict and giving plenty of room for debate.
The Case For Embiid (-110)
The current odds on favorite has led the Philadelphia 76ers on an 8-game winning streak, coming off a 31 point performance in a staggering 141-121 victory over the Indiana Pacers. After coming 2nd in the MVP race the last two seasons and not being named an All-Star starter due to the loaded front court in the Eastern Conference, Embiid has been more motivated than ever to dominate the league and set his team up for a deep run in the playoffs. The 29-year-old big man has played in 57 of 70 games so far this season and has averaged a league leading and career high 33.5 points per game on 54.6% shooting, while adding 10.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists en route to a 48-22 record with 12 games left on the schedule. Now the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Embiid has put himself in prime position to win his first MVP, but with such a close race this season, his dominance and team success must continue to fend off the other international superstars who are having equally dominant seasons themselves.
The Case of Jokic (+150)
The reigning back to back MVP is one of the most unique players in NBA history with an unprecedented combination of scoring and playmaking for a big-man. If Jokic is able to win another MVP he will join NBA legends Larry Bird, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to win 3 straight MVPs. The triple double machine has averaged 24.7 points on 63.4% shooting, 11.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists in 64 games this season, leading the Nuggets to a 48-24 record and the best record in the Western Conference. Jokic is able to elevate his teammates’ play by attracting double teams and making great passes with his superb court vision. With Jamal Murray coming off an injury and Michael Porter Jr. in and out of the lineup, Jokic has not had much consistent help from his teammates, making it so impressive that the Nuggets still hold the number 1 seed in the Western Conference. But a recent 4 game losing skid has dropped his chances of winning his third consecutive MVP as he is no longer the odds on favorite to win the award after being at the top of the MVP ladder for most of the season. Although the Nuggets are still atop the Western Conference, the margin between the top 3 MVP candidates is so close that finishing the season on a high note will be critical in who ultimately wins the award this season.
The Case for Giannis (+350)
Leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the best record in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most feared superstars across the entire league and is the dark-horse to win the MVP this season. The best two-way player in the NBA uses his freakish athleticism and length to forcefully get to the basket without anything the defense can do about it. The best player on the best team in the NBA will always be involved in the MVP discussion, but Giannis seems to be overlooked despite his impressive production and dominance this season. Despite coming third in MVP voting the past two seasons, many people across the league believe that Giannis is still the best player in the NBA. His success in the playoffs, defensive ability, and leadership make him one of the most complete players in NBA history. Much of the MVP debate has centered around Jokic and Embiid, but Antetoukounmpo should not be overlooked when discussing who is most deserving of the MVP award this season.