Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncicis the early betting favorite to win the 2022 NBA MVP award. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- Luke Doncic is the early candidate for NBA MVP for next season
- Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid are tied with second-best odds
- Read below for the 2022 NBA MVP odds and are favorite picks
This year’s NBA regular-season MVP race might have been the biggest toss-up we’ve ever seen, which was claimed by Denver Nuggets’ big man Nikola Jokic.
The 2022 race might just be as hectic.
Fresh off the Milwaukee Bucks claiming their first NBA title in 50 years, we’re already looking at who can claim that individual crown. No disrespect to Jokic, who had a phenomenal and worthy year, but I don’t see him going back-to-back.
Oddsmakers have set their sights in Big D, where wunderkid Luka Doncic is the early betting favorite in the NBA MVP odds.
2022 NBA MVP Odds
Odds as of July 20 at DraftKings
There’s a field dotted with prior MVPs, a list of up-and-comers and others stepping into their prime. Let’s explore the board and see where we might be able to find you some value.
Top of the Charts
If there’s a player tailor-made to step into the MVP spotlight in year 4, it’s Luka. His numbers were just a little lower than his second season, but he still averaged an eye-popping 27.7 points, 8.6 assists and 8.0 rebounds a night.
Doncic also set career highs in shooting from 3-point range (35%) and from the field (47.9%). Somehow, he’s just 22.
A sluggish start to the year, where he struggled shooting from deep — including two months where he shot it 33% or lower — and Dallas’ late push to a 6-seed is probably what did him in.
There are some mighty contenders in the mix, including Brooklyn Nets’ star Kevin Durant and Sixers’ stud Joel Embiid, both sitting at +700 odds. But those figures don’t likely take into account the injuries that have followed their careers recently.
📼 5.6 million fan votes couldn’t be wrong. @KDTrey5 has reasserted himself in Brooklyn as the best of the best 📼#NBAAllStar | #BrooklynTogether pic.twitter.com/1i6uicNEH4
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 19, 2021
Durant re-established himself as perhaps the most-talented player in the NBA, after recovering from an Achilles tear suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals, while he was still a member of the Golden State Warriors.
He averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists on a blistering 53.7% from the field and 45% from deep. However, he played in just 35 of 72 games, after a hamstring strain made him miss a big chunk of the season.
With Joel Embiid’s big leap this season, He’s sure to be in the MVP conversation for the foreseeable future 👀 pic.twitter.com/G1u8NDSXbD
— Sixers Nation (@SixersNationCP) July 19, 2021
Embiid might very well have been this year’s MVP, but he suffered a knee injury that took 20+ games off his resume. A renaissance year under Doc Rivers, he averaged 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, while moving away from that outside jumper and doing his damage inside.
It feels like the best player of an NBA title team is primed for an MVP year. And that’s why taking an early flier on Giannis Antetokounmpo is highly recommended.
Back-to-back 40+ point outings for Giannis… we showcase the best of his 8 40-point performances this season! #ThatsGame @Giannis_An34 and the @Bucks look to even the series 2-2 vs. PHX in Game 4 Wednesday night at 9pm/et on ABC. #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/3FAOhwurPT
— NBA (@NBA) July 14, 2021
Giannis is at the pinnacle of his powers — and that’s after back-to-back MVP crowns. He finished the regular season with 28.1 points, 11 rebounds and 5.9 dimes in 61 games. But he was never in the mix to three-peat. Thank voter fatigue for that.
Speaking of voter fatigue, seems +1100 odds for LeBron James, who was in the thick of the MVP race (and, depending who you talked to, the favorite) before he got hurt is rather tantalizing. Don’t let a lackluster postseason deter you: LeBron knows the deal, and sans Anthony Davis, no matter how well James played, he was a no-win situation against the Suns.
He did his usual LeBron campaign, putting up 25 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists, while shooting 36.5% from three. That’s only the second time in the last eight years that he’s crossed that threshold.
It’s hard to imagine Steph Curry replicating what he did in in his age-32 season, so why not move a little further down the board to where Dame Lillard resides at +1100? He’s coming off another monster campaign, and rumors of a trade out of Portland makes this a nice wildcard look.
Value-wise, there’s probably none better than James Harden at +2500. We’re talking about a guy who put up 24.6 points, 10.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds, while sliding from table-setting point guard to scoring dynamo when called upon.
James Harden putting up 30 points 15 assists and 14 rebounds vs Spurs this year was historic.
1st player to ever put up a 30-15-10 statline with zero turnovers
1st Nets win in San Antonio since 2002. pic.twitter.com/NFSDZvv1Wd
— 6manharden (@6manharden) July 14, 2021
In fact, it’s probably the best we’ve seen Harden play — and that’s taking into account he’s a multiple scoring champion and 2018 MVP. Unfortunately, the usually-durable Harden suffered a hammy strain that limited him to just 44 games. Health shouldn’t be an issue going forward, though.
One day, maybe Anthony Davis won’t have to worry about health issues. But such is the life of perhaps the NBA’s most incredible 2-way player, who was hobbled by a heel/achilles ailment before a groin injury derailed the Lakers’ playoff hopes.
Anthony Davis is that guy pal, trust me.
He IS that guy. @AntDavis23 #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/XGLhOKQkT0
— Lakeshow Ruben 🟣🟡 (@LakeshowRuben) July 20, 2021
If he’s able to stand up to the grind of a regular season, Davis could cook. And with LeBron certainly not Robocop (at least we think), AD needs to step into the LA star spotlight at some point.
Looking for breakouts? Upstarts Trae Young and Devin Booker are sitting at +1800. But lurking inside the top-20 is a player with mega star power worth considering: Zion Williamson with distant +4400 odds.
Zion Williamson highlights 😤#NBA|#NBATwitter
Via @NBA pic.twitter.com/nNc4iPri0z
— NBA Highlights (@HighlightsNBArg) July 13, 2021
Limited to just 24 games as a rookie, we were treated to the unique power package Zion brings to the court in Year 2, here he played 61 games. Zion poured in 27 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists on a sharp 61.1% shooting from the field. With talk already surfacing about Williamson’s NOLA exit plan, David Griffin needs to put together a roster that gives them a shot at the playoffs — and preferably a top seed.
What’s the Best Bet?
Luka could very well be the MVP, but why take him with so much other value across the board? I like Giannis just for the fact he can play carefree and without concern — his game is now title-approved.
Still, I can’t believe Harden is toiling in the middle of the pack. He will be an engine for possibly the league’s best team next year. All it takes is a Durant injury for the Beard to activate into Terminator mode. Even then, he may be able to outshine his Nets’ co-star outright with this refined style of play.
The pick: James Harden (+2500)