Nikola Jokic stormed the field and won MVP during the condensed 2020-21 season, but the Nuggets center isn’t the favorite to repeat with the league going back to a normal calendar in the 2021-22 season.
Odds are live for this season and the race is wide open with Luka Doncic (+380) owning the lowest odds. Kevin Durant (+600), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800) and Joel Embiid (+800) are among the favorites, with LeBron James (+1800) and Jokic (+1500) lurking.
Here is a look at NBA MVP odds for the 2021-22 season from the top US sportsbooks.
Current NBA MVP odds (October 21, 2021)
Pro basketball MVP futures report
Luka Doncic (): There was a good deal of turmoil coming out of the Mavericks camp this past off-season with Doncic reportedly upset at the departure of Donnie Nelson and struggling to get along with Kristaps Porzingis. But the ultra-talented PG is arguably the best facilitator and scorer in the game now and he’ll be working under new HC Jason Kidd, a fantastic PG in his own day.
Joel Embiid (): Health is always the biggest issue with Embiid, who might have beaten out Jokic for MVP last year had he not missed 19 games. The big man played through a meniscus injury in the playoffs and his overall injury history doesn’t bode well for his career longevity. But when he’s out there, Embiid arguably has the greatest impact of any player on both ends.
Steph Curry (): Curry had arguably the greatest shooting season of all time last year when he averaged 32 PPG and shot 48% from the field and 42% from 3-point range to carry an injury-diminished Warriors team. The Dubs have the No. 7 and No. 14 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft and will get Klay Thompson back after a two-year absence, which will only help Curry’s MVP case as the Warriors record is bound to improve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (): The two-time MVP put up typically gaudy numbers (28.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 5.9 APG) last season, but voter fatigue played a role in Giannis missing out on a three-peat. The Bucks superstar also suffered a knee injury during the playoffs but should be back to full speed by the start of next season.
Kevin Durant (): While Durant may very well be the best player in the NBA today, he’s unlikely to go hard throughout the regular season, especially since the Nets can win games with James Harden leading the way. Durant is a better bet to win Finals MVP next season than regular season MVP.
LeBron James (): The last time there was a narrative about LeBron James being washed up, he bounced back with a massive season and barely lost out to Giannis in MVP voting. The Lakers will be one of the favorites to win the title, and LeBron will likely only sit out a handful of regular season games for rest as LA chases the No. 1 seed in the West.
Damian Lillard (): Lillard was a marvel last season and throughout the playoffs, but the Blazers supporting cast and coaching staff disappointed once again. The trade buzz has quieted and it will be interesting to see what Lillard can do under new head coach Chauncey Billups.
Nikola Jokic (): Jokic missed just one game last season and averaged 26.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG, and 8.4 APG on 60.3% eFG% with the best Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in the league. Jamal Murray (ACL) should miss the start of next season, so The Joker will have even more on his plate.
Trae Young (): A stunning All-Star snub, Young became a superstar during the 2021 playoffs and he should carry that confidence into next season. The durable young guard rarely misses games and is growing into his own as a leader for a surging Hawks club.
Devin Booker (): While Chris Paul is the senior statesman, Devin Booker was an incredible leader for the Suns during their first NBA Finals season since 1993. The 24-year-old might be ready to take the torch from CP3 this season.
James Harden (): When Kevin Durant was out, Harden carried the Nets for several weeks and was the MVP frontrunner before a hamstring injury derailed his season. He will be back to full speed for the start of this season and will be ready to facilitate as the head of the most dangerous offense in basketball.
Anthony Davis (): Davis has proven to be extremely injury prone, and he’s also playing with one of the greatest ever in LeBron James. Unless LeBron gets injured and Davis stays upright all year, it’s hard to imagine him winning MVP.
Jayson Tatum (): Tatum has become an unstoppable offensive force with great defensive potential and he should become more of a leader as his career progresses. With Ime Udoka taking over as head coach and Tatum fully recovered from COVID, the Celtics should be improved this season.
Donovan Mitchell (): Mitchell is a superstar with a knack for turning it up in big games. The Jazz could finish with the best regular season record once again and that would put their offensive leader at the front of the pack.
Futures Betting on NBA MVP
The NBA MVP award is usually fairly easy to predict, but with the league currently loaded with super-duper-stars we saw a relative longshot win in 2021. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic captured his first league MVP award, as he averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. The Joker had the 12th lowest odds to win the award at FanDuel Sportsbook ahead of the season at +3600.
Luka Doncic had entered the 2020-21 NBA season as the favorite to win league MVP. LeBron James had a significant stretch in the middle of the season where he owned the lowest odds. But Jokic was superb from start-to-finish.
Betting on the MVP winner is one of the more popular options for outright bets known as “Futures,” which are usually wagers on a season-long outcome such as the NBA champion, NBA division winner, or individual award winners. It’s also possible to bet Over or Under on Team Win totals, i.e. the number of games a team is expected to win during the regular season.
Best NBA MVP betting site
Where you can bet on the MVP legally
Online sports betting is currently legal at a regulated sportsbook in the following states:
|State||Law Passed?||Launch Date||Mobile Launch|
|Arizona Sports Betting||Yes||September 2021||September 2021|
|Arkansas Sports Betting||Yes||July 2019||NA|
|Colorado Sports Betting||Yes||May 2020||May 2020|
|Connecticut Sports Betting||Yes*||September 2021||October 2021|
|Delaware Sports Betting||Yes||June 2018||Pending|
|Florida Sports Betting||Yes*||Pending||Pending|
|Illinois Sports Betting||Yes||March 2020||August 2020|
|Indiana Sports Betting||Yes||September 2019||October 2019|
|Iowa Sports Betting||Yes||August 2019||August 2019|
|Maryland Sports Betting||Yes||Pending||Pending|
|Michigan Sports Betting||Yes||March 2020||January 2021|
|Mississippi Sports Betting||Yes||August 2018||September 2021|
|Montana Sports Betting||Yes||March 2020||March 2020|
|New Hampshire Sports Betting||Yes||August 2020||December 2019|
|New Jersey Sports Betting||Yes||June 2018||August 2018|
|New Mexico Sports Betting||No*||October 2018||NA|
|Nevada Sports Betting||Yes||1949||2010|
|New York Sports Betting||Yes||July 2019||Pending|
|North Carolina Sports Betting||Yes||March 2021||NA|
|Oregon Sports Betting||No*||August 2019||October 2019|
|Pennsylvania Sports Betting||Yes||November 2018||May 2019|
|Rhode Island Sports Betting||Yes||November 2018||September 2019|
|South Dakota Sports Betting||Yes||September 2021||NA|
|Tennessee Sports Betting||Yes||November 2020||November 2020|
|Virginia Sports Betting||Yes||January 2021||January 2021|
|Washington, D.C. Sports Betting||Yes||May 2020||August 2020|
|Washington Sports Betting||Yes||September 2021||NA|
|West Virginia Sports Betting||Yes||August 2018||August 2019|
|Wyoming Sports Betting||Yes||September 2021||September 2021|
Legislation is on the table in a number of states with more states sure to legalize sports betting in the upcoming years.
Residents of Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia have access to online sportsbooks, including the platforms created by industry titans DraftKings and FanDuel. William Hill and other online books also offer great opportunities to bet on NBA games and Futures.
In order to bet on MVP, users can click on the NBA tab and find the tab labeled “Futures” and move to “Player Futures.” Regular Season MVP should be one of the categories along with Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and more postseason awards.
Previous winners and trends
As mentioned above, only two MVP winners in the “modern era” have come from teams that won 50 games or fewer. Additionally, since 1985 only two MVPs have come from teams that failed to finish at least second in their conference.
So the starting point for choosing a good bet is finding the best player on a winning team. It’s no coincidence that Jokic and Embiid were two of the favorites down the stretch of last season. The Nuggets were a top 4 seed in the West as were the Sixers in the East.
Remember that the MVP is a regular season award, so players that historically have come up short in the postseason like Jokic and Harden will always still have a seat at the MVP table.
That said, because the award is voted upon by sportswriters, a players’ body of work tends to put them over the top. Only four MVP winners were younger than 23 and the last rookie to win the MVP was Wes Unseld back in 1969.
Scoring is a key criteria for MVP, as the NBA’s leading scorer has won the award in four of the past five years.
While the Center position is fading in today’s small-ball NBA, that position leads the way in MVP awards with 26, although 22 of those came in the first 28 years of the award.
Over the last 14 years, guards have won the award eight times, signifying how the NBA has transitioned to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game. The past four guards to win (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Derrick Rose) are not particularly renowned defenders. Posting gaudy offensive numbers can be enough to sway voters.
Shooting guards have won the fewest awards (eight) in the history of the MVP and Michael Jordan snagged five of those trophies.
Since the 1975-76 season, only two players have been named MVP in a season where their team failed to win 50 games. That includes Russell Westbrook in 2016-17, but it has become a rarity for a player from a mediocre team to win the award.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is voted upon by a panel of 100 media members who are not affiliated with any NBA franchises. Each member of the panel casts a vote for first to fifth place selections. Each vote counts incrementally towards a players’ total, with first-place votes netting 10 points and fifth-place votes counting for only 1 point.
In the history of NBA MVP voting, only Curry (2015-16) has received every first-place vote from the entire panel to be named MVP unanimously. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award a record six times and LeBron has won four MVP awards, which makes him the leader among active players.