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2022-23 NBA MVP odds: Joel Embiid among betting favorites

76ers’ center enters the season as the second choice to win his first MVP

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid enters the 2022-23 NBA season as the second choice at BetMGM to win the league's MVP award. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid enters the 2022-23 NBA season as the second choice at BetMGM to win the league's MVP award. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)Read moreCOLE BURSTON / Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has put up spectacular numbers each of the past two seasons—just not quite spectacular enough to beat out Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic for the NBA MVP award.

If you believe the NBA MVP odds market heading into the 2022-23 campaign, Embiid is headed for yet another monster statistical season … and yet another MVP runner-up finish.

Embiid, who served as Jokic’s maid of honor in both 2020-21 and 2021-22, is currently the second choice at BetMGM to win the league’s top individual honor. His +600 odds trail only preseason favorite and Dallas Mavericks do-everything superstar Luka Doncic (+400), with Milwaukee Bucks forward and former two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting third (+650).

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So is this the year Embiid finally pushes his way to the front of the NBA MVP altar? Or will Jokic become the first player in nearly four decades to three-peat? Or might a former winner such as Steph Curry, Kevin Durant or the ageless LeBron James reclaim the throne?

With the season set to tip off Tuesday with a doubleheader that includes Embiid and the 76ers traveling to Boston to battle the Celtics, now is a good time to examine the odds to win the 2022-23 NBA MVP.

2022-23 NBA MVP Odds

Luka Doncic
Joel Embiid
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Kevin Durant
Nikola Jokic
Jayson Tatum
Ja Morant
Stephan Curry

Odds via BetMGM and updated at the time of publication.

Embiid is coming off a season in which he posted career highs in points (league-leading 30.6 per game), rebounds (11.7), assists (4.2), steals (1.1) and — perhaps most importantly — games played (68). Yet despite being the NBA MVP favorite for much of the campaign, Embiid was overtaken by the late-surging Jokic.

The Nuggets’ triple-double machine finished last year with per-game averages of 27.1 points, 13.8 boards and 7.9 assists to claim his second straight MVP award. Jokic enters this season looking to become the first player to claim the hardware in three consecutive seasons since Celtics Hall of Famer Larry Bird (1984-86).

So far, oddsmakers aren’t high on Jokic’s chances to match Larry Legend, as he’s the fifth choice in the 2022-23 NBA MVP betting market (and the last player with single-digit odds).

Still, Jokic may be worth a flier for a few reasons: The 7-footer is durable, having played at least 72 games in each of his seven seasons (including two pandemic-shortened years); the Nuggets are projected to improve from last year’s 48-win season (their win total at BetMGM is 51.5, sixth highest in the league); and because he’s so consistent, Jokic’s odds likely won’t stretch much beyond the current +900 price.

Finding Value Among the NBA MVP Favorites

Among the top five MVP candidates, there’s also solid value with the player directly above Jokic on the odds board. Kevin Durant, who won his lone MVP in 2013-14, enters his 15th season as healthy as he’s been in years. After missing all of 2019-20 with a torn Achilles and playing only 35 of 72 games the following year, Durant averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in 55 contests last season.

It was the Brooklyn Nets star’s most productive effort since he put up 32 points, 7.4 boards and 5.5 assists in 2014-15.

Of course, if you’re betting on the 34-year-old Durant to join Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Curry and James as multi-time MVP winners, you’re betting on his health. It’s a risky proposition to be sure, but this much appears certain: If he can stay on the court for most of the season, Durant’s MVP price likely will shorten significantly from the current +850 price.

And what about Embiid? Well, the former No. 1 overall pick and five-time All-Star certainly has the talent to win his first MVP. Like Durant, though, health concerns linger. Embiid has played more than 60 games in consecutive seasons just once in his eight-year career.

More importantly, the 28-year-old’s preseason odds seem short. If you must have an “Embiid to win MVP” ticket in your pocket, consider jumping in after the season begins and hope he gets off to a slow start. After all, October (22.8 ppg) and November (23.9 ppg) are two of Embiid’s least productive months in terms of scoring.

» READ MORE: NBA: 76ers futures odds ahead of 2022-23 NBA season tipoff

Three Shots in the Dark

Looking for a dark horse to come from the back of the NBA MVP odds pack and steal the league’s top honor? Consider this trio of long-shot candidates:

Kawhi Leonard (+2500): Leonard missed all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL. However, the Los Angeles Clippers’ swingman played 16 minutes in each of his team’s first three preseason games and appears set to be on the court with limited restrictions when the regular season commences next week.

Sure, Leonard will get more than a few “load management” days off. But the five-time All-Star has the all-around game needed to add his first regular-season NBA MVP award to his two NBA Finals MVPs. Added bonus: The Clippers are expected to bounce back from last year’s mediocre season and be among the league’s title contenders.

Zion Williamson (+2500): If Durant, Embiid and Leonard are injury question marks heading into the season, Williamson is an injury exclamation point. The New Orleans Pelicans’ power forward/freak of nature has played in just 85 of 226 games since being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. That includes missing all of last season.

Like Leonard, though, Williamson has seen preseason action, with his minutes increasing in each of the Pelicans’ first three games. Alas, in his fourth game Wednesday night in Miami, the former Duke star tweaked his ankle and departed after 10 minutes of action (he’s listed as day-to-day). This is precisely why backing Zion to win the 2022-23 NBA MVP is a roll of the dice. Then again, if he can stay on the floor and play up to his capabilities, his ceiling is unlimited — and his 25-to-1 odds won’t last long.

Karl-Anthony Towns (+5000): You want stats? KAT is going to give them to you. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ versatile center has averaged between 24.4 points and 26.5 points each of the last four seasons. Towns also has averaged double-digit rebounds in six of his seven NBA seasons (the lone exception being last year, when he just missed at 9.8 boards per contest).

Throw in the fact that Minnesota is projected to have a strong season (BetMGM win total: 49.5), and those 50-to-1 odds look mighty enticing.

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.