NBA Regular Season MVP Odds: Will Nikola Jokic Win His Third Award?

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Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets warms up before the game at Ball Arena on December 25, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Justin Tafoya/Getty Images/AFP

NBA Pick: Nikola Jokic to Win MVP (+300) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Nikola Jokic to Win MVP (+300)
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Luka Doncic is once again favored to win MVP, but the analytics say Nikola Jokic is the best choice for your NBA picks

Is “voter fatigue” a real thing? If so, it’s perfectly understandable why two-time and reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic isn’t favored to make it three straight – he’s the +300 second favorite at Bovada as we go to press.

At No. 1 on the NBA odds list, as he was at the start of the 2022-23 campaign: Luka Doncic (+275). These are both amazing players, and awards like this are subjective anyway, but unless the voters are indeed growing tired of Jokic’s excellence, he “deserves” to complete the threepeat by winning the first-ever Michael Jordan Trophy. 

What About Jayson Tatum?

Here we go again. Tatum was the MVP favorite for a brief period there, but that chatter (cough cough promotional campaign cough) has died down somewhat; Tatum is the +400 third favorite at Bovada.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 candidates, broken down into tiers: 

  1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks +275
  2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets +300
  3. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics +400
  4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks +450 
  5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets +1000
  6. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers +1800 
  7. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies +2500 
  8. Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers +3000 
  9. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors +5000
  10. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans +8000 

If we look at the advanced stats, they suggest Jokic is outperforming everyone else on this list. But as you know, the MVP voters are human beings, with feelings. We need to turn on our empathy machines, get inside their heads, and try to imagine how they’re going to approach their ballots this spring.

How Do We Predict MVP Votes?

With advanced stats, of course. The fine folks at Basketball Reference have this thing called the NBA MVP Award Tracker, where they crunch the numbers and look at earlier voting results to generate each player’s probability of winning.

No surprise to see Jokic at the top of their list – but look how far ahead he is: 

  1. Jokic 55.0%
  2. Doncic 18.1% 
  3. Embiid 8.8% 

That’s a spicy meatball. Given these projections, we should definitely hammer Jokic at +300; it’s impossible to say for sure whether voters will turn on him, but their previous betting patterns suggest otherwise. 

What About Embiid?

Indeed, the Sixers superstar finished second to Jokic each of the past two seasons; Embiid was favored for a while last year amid talk of Jokic voter fatigue, but sanity prevailed in the end.

No offense to Embiid – in fact, he now has some betting value for our NBA picks at +1800 to win MVP. If you run 8.8% through the dead-sexy BMR Odds Converter, you get +1036 out the other side. We’ll buy that for a dollar. 

It’s also worth a fun-size bet to load up on Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis (+5000). Basketball Reference has Sabonis’s MVP chances pegged at 2.0%, which translates to +4900; otherwise, none of the remaining players on the NBA futures market has the value we need for our basketball picks, including Tatum at 3.9% (+2464) to win. 

Who’s the Real MVP? 

Bill Wennington. No, it’s Jokic, of course; just like last year, he leads all players in the major advanced stat categories: 

  • BPM: plus-12.4 
  • PER: plus-31.9 
  • WS: plus-8.1 

There is one category Jokic doesn’t lead: VORP, where his plus-4.5 is a shade behind Doncic at plus-4.6. But Doncic is second in BPM and Win Shares and third in PER behind Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers.

I’m not saying the MVP voters are following these stats very closely; the numbers are just a catch-all that tries to show the cumulative value of these players across several categories. Jokic puts up such high numbers because he’s that damn good at so many things: 

  • 25.0 points per game (No. 16) 
  • 10.8 rebounds per game (No. 6) 
  • 9.7 assists per game (No. 3) 
  • 1.4 steals per game (No. 15) 
  • 0.6 blocks per game (No. 75) 

Okay, maybe rim protection isn’t Jokic’s strong suit – but he’s still arguably the best defender in the game at plus-3.9 in Defensive BPM. And we’re only halfway through the regular season; the deeper we get, the more Jokic can take advantage of tired opponents in the Mile High air at Ball Arena. Bet accordingly, and may the sphere be with you. 

The Picks

NBA Pick: Nikola Jokic to Win MVP (+300) at Bovada

NBA Pick: Joel Embiid to Win MVP (+1800) at Bovada

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Joel Embiid to Win MVP (+1800)
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NBA Pick: Domantas Sabonis to Win MVP (+5000) at Bovada

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Domantas Sabonis to Win MVP (+5000)
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*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.