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    NBA MVP Odds at the All-Star Break

    Kelley Bydlon examines the NBA MVP market as we head into the 2024 All-Star break.


    Who will win the NBA MVP?

    With the All-Star break upon us, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at the NBA MVP market, especially now that we know Joel Embiid will not play enough games to qualify for the award. A lot of players have had tremendous seasons thus far, but these are the five guys that deserve your attention at this point in the year. 

    True Contenders

    Nikola Jokic (-150)
    Jokic is currently the betting favorite, and understandably there will be a lot of MVP bets placed on the best player in the NBA. But can he win this thing for a third time? Tim Bontemps’ latest straw poll would indicate that he absolutely can — and is likely to. Personally, I think this will be a tighter race down the stretch than most. 


    Top NBA Resources:

    Jokic is currently averaging a whole assist more than he did in his 2021/2022 MVP season, but he also has fewer points and rebounds per game than in that season. Also, his Estimated Plus-MInus and his Estimated Wins are less than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giannis Anteokounkpo, and Luka Doncic (according to Dunks & Threes).

    Where his Nuggets and where Gilgeous-Alexander’s Thunder end up in the standings could ultimately decide this award. 

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+280) 
    Gilgeous-Alexander should have won Most Improved Player last year, and now he’s knocking on the door for MVP. What he’s doing this year is simply incredible. Gilgeous-Alexander has led an upstart Thunder team to a position where they are battling for the top seed in the Western Conference, and he has the highest EW (Estimated Wins contributed) in the NBA at 14.9. He is also putting up some gaudy individual statistics: 31.1 PPG (3rd in NBA), 54.6 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 5.5 REB, 6.5 AST, 2.2 STL (1st in NBA), and only 2.2 TO. 

    At +280, I think SGA is a great bet for MVP. I recently bet him at just over +300. The Thunder have the ninth easiest remaining strength of schedule and if they are able to beat out the Nuggets in the standings, he’ll have the edge over Jokic. And frankly, if a player with a resume like this is not truly considered, then I guess this award has just gotten to the point where it’s Jokic or Embiid every season.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800)
    If you’ve listened to Hardwood Handicappers or A Numbers Game, you’ve probably heard me mentioning that I like Giannis in this market once or twice…or 117 times. I’ve bet him multiple times over the past month. 

    Now, I think you can read into the straw poll a bit and wonder whether or not people truly feel that Jokic is the hands-down MVP right now, or they were just asked to send in a name in early February and decided to pick the easiest choice. I think that’s a fair question. I do think for people like me who have been carrying the Giannis flag, you probably have to stand down a bit. There were not many people running to put him first or even second on their ballot. 

    Having said all that, I think there is still a path to Giannis winning the award. Yes, his team will have to start winning more games, but if he can help Doc Rivers get this defense turned around just slightly — and the Bucks get back to the No. 2 seed in the East — I think Giannis will have a strong case for MVP. Currently, he is only behind SGA in both EPM and EW. And what if I told you this former MVP winner could finish this season averaging more points and assists than in any season in his career? Is that an MVP ticket you might be interested in? I was.

    Still In It

    Luka Doncic (13-1)
    Luka’s stats speak for themselves. He’s one of the most individually gifted basketball players on the planet. He could realistically finish the season averaging 33+ PPG, 9+ APG, and 9+ RPG, but his team might be battling to make the playoffs. Luka’s awesome, and I love watching him every game he plays, but it’ll be hard for me to consider a bet on him until his teams find more success.

    Kawhi Leonard (60-1)
    We’ve been waiting on this for a while now, but Kawhi has this Clippers team looking like the best team in the NBA. They are in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference. Kawhi will likely finish with a 50-40-90 season and in more games played in a season since 2017. He’s been getting bet heavily in this market recently, and I understand why his odds have shortened as much as they have. If he can keep up the stellar play and lead this Clippers team to the top seed in the West, don’t be shocked if Kawhi walks away with this award.

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