NBA MVP Odds: Giannis Antetokounmpo Surges as a More Valuable Pick Than Jokic

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Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts after his dunk against Los Angeles Lakers on February 09, 2023. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP.

NBA Prop Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo Regular Season MVP (+700) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo Regular Season MVP (+700)
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Let’s break down the contenders and give NBA picks with odds as of March 3rd via Bovada, one of the best sportsbooks.

2023 NBA MVP Odds

While you might see a surprise AL or NL MVP in Major League Baseball from time to time, that really doesn’t happen in the NBA, NHL, or NFL as the biggest stars always win the MVP award. Just mark down a superstar quarterback for MVP in the NFL, and in hockey, the Hart Trophy will be Connor McDavid’s to lose for at least the next five years.

Now, go look at a list of NBA MVPs and it’s all Hall of Famers (or future ones) except for maybe 2010-11 winner Derrick Rose, then of the Chicago Bulls. The youngest-ever NBA MVP has had his career wrecked by injuries.

Yes, the NBA is technically coming out of its All-Star break later this week, but we aren’t anywhere close to the halfway point of the season as some teams have played as many as 61 of their 82 games.

Here are the current MVP candidates and their NBA odds.

Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)

  • MVP Odds (-350)

Statistically, Jokic deserves to join legends Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell as the only players to win MVP three seasons in a row. The Nuggets have the best record in the West because of the triple-double machine. Denver’s net rating is plus-5.8 with him this season and minus-4.5 in games he missed.

Jokic is averaging 24.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists and could join Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double in a season. Jokic has shot .500 or better from the field in 45 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA and the longest overall streak in the NBA this year.

ESPN Player Efficiency Rating has Jokic as the league’s top player. Jokic’s 11.3 Win Shares are also the most in the league by a wide margin. ESPN ran an MVP straw poll around the NBA last week and Jokic was first by a fairly wide margin.

Also, consider that four of the top nine finishers in the first straw poll conducted in December have all missed several weeks because of injury and have fallen deeply behind in the race: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Zion Williamson.

The only way Jokic likely doesn’t win, barring injury, is voter fatigue. How else can one explain Michael Jordan not winning about 10 MVP Awards?

Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

  • MVP Odds (+550)

Embiid has finished second to Jokic in MVP voting the past two seasons. The 7-foot Embiid probably needed the All-Star break as badly as anyone, as Embiid had been listed as questionable on the daily injury reports for weeks with a foot injury but mostly playing through it.

To win MVP, Embiid probably has to win the NBA scoring title at a minimum because Jokic does everything else perhaps better. Embiid is second at 33.1 ppg (also averaging 10.2 rpg and 4.1 apg) and has scored at least 20 points in 18 straight games, the third-longest streak in the NBA. Then again, Embiid led the NBA in scoring last year, the first center since Shaquille O’Neal to do so, and still didn’t win MVP.

What Else Does Embiid Have Going Against Him?

  • Philly probably won’t finish better than third in the East.
  • Voters tend to reward the stars on teams with higher conference finishes.
  • His foot also is a concern.

Bulls All-Star recently DeMar DeRozan had a suggestion: 78-game minimum for NBA MVP qualification. I love that idea, but it will never happen.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

  • MVP Odds (+700)

Giannis was the most recent player with a chance to win the MVP three seasons in a row but finished fourth in the 2020-21 MVP voting behind Jokic, Embiid, and Steph Curry. All Giannis did that shortened campaign was average 28.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.9 assists. And he finished fourth?

Milwaukee entered the break on an NBA season-high 12-game winning streak. In addition to averaging at least 30 points (31.8) and 10 rebounds (12.2) a game this season, Antetokounmpo is also averaging at least 5.0 assists and shooting better than 50% from the field.

Giannis Can Still Steal This

In NBA history, a player has averaged 30+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 5+ assists while shooting 50% from the field only three other times – and not since the 1972-73 season when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it.

If the Bucks can pass and keep the top seed in the East over Boston, Giannis can steal this. He also could if the Bucks go on something like a 20-game winning streak – looking at their schedule, I can see them winning the next eight to get to 20 and then visiting Golden State on March 11 in a possible Finals preview on national TV. Big games on the national stage can only help an MVP campaign.

Giannis, who was second in the ESPN MVP straw poll, did suffer a wrist injury on Thursday in Chicago but it wasn’t serious.

NBA Prop Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo Regular Season MVP (+700) at Bovada

Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) & Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

  • MVP Odds (+1600) – Each

These are the only other two players priced below +6500, and I don’t see a path to winning MVP for either.

Tatum is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 30.6 ppg. He leads the NBA in total points and passed Isaiah Thomas for the most points scored by a Celtic before the All-Star break in franchise history. Oddsmakers almost are punishing Tatum (who was favored early on for a while) for the Celtics being so good. Still, no Celtic has won MVP since Bird. Tatum has had a few terrible games this season and some voters remember those.

Doncic probably had a better chance of winning his first MVP before the Mavericks traded for All-Star Kyrie Irving. Dallas is better with that deal, but Doncic’s numbers are sure to dip some as Irving also needs the ball plenty. Luka will get his MVP someday.

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.