FOX Sports Betting Analyst
NBA MVP odds have seen a change at the top of the board, with Denver Nuggets triple-double machine Nikola Jokic being overtaken by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.
Jokic is the two-time defending NBA MVP and appeared well on his way to a third straight trophy. But the Nuggets had a recent four-game skid, while the Sixers have won six in a row.
That’s gotten people’s attention. FOX Bet’s Tieme Wesselink and BetMGM Nevada’s Scott Shelton helped dive into the NBA MVP odds flip-flop.
Let’s jump into the big shift in odds.
As noted, Denver went on a four-game slide, and it’s not like the slump was to some of the NBA’s best. The breakdown, in order:
A 117-96 home shellacking at the hands of Chicago, which is among the worst teams in the East.
A 128-120 loss at San Antonio, one of the worst teams in the NBA.
A 122-120 loss home loss to Brooklyn, which, while still in the playoff picture, is a shell of itself after trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
A 125-110 loss at Toronto, which has got talent but is sub-.500 at the moment.
Conversely, Philadelphia is on a 6-0 run entering Friday’s game at Charlotte. And Embiid’s stat line is impressive. He’s scored 31 points or more in all six games, including a double-double of 36 points and 18 rebounds in Wednesday’s 118-109 win at Cleveland.
And in the win that started the streak, a 133-130 victory at Milwaukee, Embiid had 31 points, 10 assists and six rebounds.
“We saw Jokic pull away late from Embiid and Giannis in last season’s race. We might see a role reversal this year,” Wesselink said. “Who would have predicted the Nuggets’ four-game losing streak? It allowed Embiid, with the Sixers on a six-game win streak, to surpass Jokic. Embiid looks destined to hold on to the NBA scoring [lead], with Doncic out of action.”
Indeed, Embiid is averaging 33.5 points per game, a half-point ahead of Doncic, who missed three games with an ankle issue.
Time for Nuggets to panic as Joel Embiid becomes new MVP favorite over Nikola Jokić
Watch as Nick Wright says it is panic time for the Nuggets, then explains why Embiid deserves to win MVP at the current rate.
Big Man’s Big Move
Back in January, Embiid had a foot injury that caused him to slide to +2000 or more with some oddsmakers. But he has since steadily climbed back into the MVP race.
On March 6, BetMGM had Embiid at +650, tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the second choice. Still, Jokic was seemingly running away with the honor as a -400 favorite. But by Tuesday, Jokic went to -225, while Embiid improved to +200.
By Thursday morning, with the Sixers staying hot, Embiid moved to the -110 favorite at BetMGM, while Jokic fell to second at +160. As of late Thursday night, Embiid was -105, Jokic +160 and Antetokounmpo +375.
And BetMGM is rooting for the Philly big man.
“We do really good to Embiid, and we do really bad to Jokic,” BetMGM Nevada’s Scott Shelton said. “So we’re hoping it stays this way. We’re in good shape to Giannis, too. He’d be the best-case scenario. Jokic is the worst-case scenario.
Shelton was speaking strictly to BetMGM Nevada’s position – how MVP odds are being bet at BetMGM’s Las Vegas books. But nationally, it’s a similar story. Jokic has the second-most MVP tickets at BetMGM, behind only Doncic, but Jokic has taken 1.5 times more money than Doncic, who is second in money.
Embiid is a distant third in tickets and money.
Records Play a Role
At FOX Bet, Embiid fell as far back as +2200 in January. Now, he’s the -105 favorite, with Jokic +150 and Antetokounmpo +350.
And Embiid now has the Sixers at 46-22 on the season. While that’s only the third-best record in the East – behind Milwaukee (50-20) and Boston (48-22) – it puts Philly ahead of the Western Conference-leading Nuggets (47-23).
“The team records play an important role here, with the Sixers now half a game up on the Nuggets,” Wesselink said. “The consensus is also that the Eastern Conference is better than the wild West this season. Pundits are making it a point of emphasis that Jokic would win a near-unprecedented three consecutive MVPs. I don’t think previous years should be taken into account for the 2022-23 MVP, but it will certainly play a role in some voters’ minds.
“Embiid finished runner-up behind Jokic twice. There are still 14 games to play for the Sixers, and it feels like Embiid controls his own destiny this season.”
Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for VegasInsider.com. He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He’s based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.
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