Joel Embiid Scores 70, Tops NBA MVP Odds, But Among Players Who Could Miss 65 Games Rule

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Written By Mo Nuwwarah | Last Updated
joel embiid return nba mvp

Eight days ago, 76ers superstar Joel Embiid was +900 in BetMGM NBA Most Valuable Player odds after missing his 10th game of the season. After 41 points and 10 rebounds vs. Nikola Jokić last week and becoming the ninth player in history to score 70 Monday against the Spurs, Embiid is now as short as -125 at Caesars Sportsbook. The betting market now appears to believe a new rule this year is the only thing that can stop bettors from cashing in on NBA MVP odds for the second consecutive year.

The new rule is simple and a response to league-wide “load management” during the regular season. Players must play 20+ minutes in at least 65 games to be eligible for awards. Small carveouts exist for circumstances like season-ending injury, which we’ll ignore for now.

Bettors looking to wager must now keep tabs on which players are on track to meet the participation requirements. Almost exactly half of the season is in the books, as most teams have played right about half of their 82 games. That makes this a great time to see which top NBA MVP contenders are on pace for 65 or more games.

Embiid On Pace For Just 62.5 Games

Here’s a look at the players whose consensus price is better than +5000, which seemed as good a place as any for culling the list to realistic candidates.

PlayerTeam GamesGames Played82-Game Pace
N. Jokic444380.1
J. Embiid413162.5
S. Gilgeous-Alexander424180
L. Doncic423568.3
G. Antetokounmpo424078.1
J. Tatum434076.3
A. Edwards423874.1
  • Stats through Sunday

Note that Nikola Jokic (2), Jayson Tatum (1) and Anthony Edwards (1) each have games where they played but didn’t reach the 20-minute threshold. All but the Edwards game are included in the above table, as up to two 15-minute appearances may count for the player in the case of a near miss. That makes these functionally worth a game, except for Edwards’ three-minute cameo.

Embiid just jumped back up the odds board from around +900 to +600 after leading his team to another impressive win over Jokic’s Nuggets. Both players excelled statistically, but Embiid’s efficient 41 combined with the win impressed the market enough to warrant a move. Then Monday night came, and the market went crazy after he dropped 70.

Is that justified, though? Based on the table above, Embiid is in the worst shape of any serious contender to meet the 65-game threshold. Notably, despite comments in the past that indicate a desire to chase MVPs, Embiid indicated he feels otherwise this season. Perhaps recent playoff flameouts have changed his view.

“I’ve already done it,” he said on Jan. 15. “If I have a chance to get a second one, I’ll do it. I’m not going to force myself or push for it … But at the end of the day, if there’s something going on, and I can’t meet the requirement for the amount of games played to qualify for that, then so be it.”

Embiid has missed 10 games so far. He can miss seven more and still get to 65 games played. If he misses eight more, he will be ineligible. The 76ers only have five back-to-backs left on the schedule.

NBA Players To Score 70 Points In a Game

Player (Team)DateGame resultPTSREB
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)March 2, 1962Warriors 169, Knicks 14710025
Kobe Bryant (Lakers)Jan. 22, 2006Lakers 122, Raptors 104816
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)Dec. 8, 1961Lakers 151, Warriors 1477843
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)Jan. 13, 1962Warriors 135, Packers 1177336
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)Nov. 16, 1962Warriors 127, Knicks 1117314
David Thompson (Nuggets)April 9, 1978Pistons 139, Nuggets 137737
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)Nov. 3, 1962Lakers 127, Warriors 1157218
Elgin Baylor (Lakers)Nov. 15, 1960Lakers 123, Knicks 1087125
David Robinson (Spurs)April 24, 1994Spurs 112, Clippers 977114
Donovan Mitchell (Cavs)Jan. 2, 2023Cavs 145, Bulls 134718
Damian Lillard (Blazers)Feb. 26, 2023Blazers 131, Rockets 114716
Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)March 10, 1963Nationals 163, Warriors 1487018
Devin Booker (Suns)March 24, 2017Celtics 130, Suns 120708
Joel Embiid (76ers)Jan. 22, 2024Sixers 133, Spurs 1237018

Luka Dončić Also Trending Toward Danger Zone

Doncic also appears to be in the danger zone after missing four of the team’s past seven games.

The Mavericks being on the edge of the play-in race (currently seeded one spot above, in sixth) should push him to play as often as possible, good news for Doncic backers.

Doncic returned from injury to log another 36 minutes in a loss to the Lakers on Wednesday. Whether he’s able to stay in the lineup over the next few days could prove telling.

Best of luck betting NBA MVP odds.

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