3 Good and Bad 2022 NBA MVP Value Bets

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, front right, jokes with teammates after accepting the Most Valuable Player award before Game 3 of an NBA second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The National Basketball Association is currently full of top-end talent. The perfect place to see this is in the preseason 2022 NBA MVP odds.

Listing the top players in the league based off their odds of winning the 2022 NBA MVP is complicated. It doesn’t necessarily answer who the best player in the league is, but who could put up the statistics on good teams worthy of a trophy or even have a great narrative all season like a big leap in their level of play.

There is no player undeserving of not betting on their preseason odds. But there are some who have much better value than others. Should you just take the obvious choices at the top or look further down the list at some of the long shots?

Before the season has started, Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic is the early favorite to take home the hardware at +400. Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant follow him up at +700, respectively.

Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo, both looking for their third MVP trophies, sit at +800. Though these are the names Vegas sees as the most likely to win the award, should you be looking for value elsewhere?

During the 2021 NBA season when Nikola Jokic was named MVP, he began with odds at +3000. His odds to repeat during the 2022 season are half of what they were a year ago at +1500.

3 Players to Avoid for 2022 NBA MVP

To begin, these are the names you should avoid making bets on for the 2022 NBA MVP. And to be clear, they are obviously great players. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even be mentioned as an MVP candidate prior to the season. I just don’t think there is the value in betting on these players compared to others.

Nikola Jokic +1500

This isn’t easy for me to write. Nikola Jokic is close to my heart. But I just don’t see the NBA voters giving the MVP to Jokic for a second time in a row. During the 2021 season, when he obviously deserved the trophy, he has received so much disrespect.

But to win a second MVP is not easy to do. There needs to be some sort of jump in game or a lack of others rising to that previous level. Jokic will absolutely follow up his MVP season with another great year. He has been doing this for longer than most care to admit, not just one season. He has finished in the top five of MVP voting in two of the last three years and another in the top 10.

When it comes down to it though, unless The Joker surprises everyone and pushes his game to another level, increasing his scoring or maybe even averaging a triple-double, I don’t see where he could win this award for the second consecutive year. That being said, I won’t be that surprised if he did either of those things.

I don’t think it is impossible; my real reason for putting him here is the odds. Betting on him at +1500 just isn’t value to me when there are other player who will easily get the votes over him and who also have lower odds. But, I would love to see him prove me and everyone in the basketball world wrong once again.

Damian Lillard +1200

I want you to ask yourself one thing; what would a Damian Lillard MVP season look like? I would imagine it is similar to a Steph Curry MVP season, but Lillard isn’t on the unstoppable Golden State Warriors. He is on an average Portland Trailblazers team.

He is easily one of the best players in the NBA, there is no doubt about that. But he is in a small market on a team that likely won’t finish win a top four seed. Russell Westbrook did win the MVP in 2017 with his Oklahoma City Thunder finishing with the sixth seed, but he averaged a triple double, something thought impossible at the time.

There is a way I could see it happening that is actually helped by his struggling team. Lillard has the opportunity to take the narrative of the Trailblazers getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round and run with it. If he were to lead Portland to a home-court advantage while also putting up numbers like he did during the 2019-20 season at 30 points and eight assists, he would definitely be in the conversation.

The piece that makes this much more complicated is the possibility of him being traded from now until the trade deadline. Depending on the destination, it could either tank or assist his case for awards.

But this is not a Lillard hate piece about how he can’t win the MVP. This is about him not having the odds I would like to make it worth a bet. And there are just too many variables with Lillard at +1200.

Joel Embiid +700

If there was a case to make against Nikola Jokic winning the MVP in 2021, it starts with Joel Embiid. He may have been the best player in the league a season ago when he was playing. The problem was, which stems across his entire career, he has an inability to stay on healthy.

If this bet was whether Embiid would play more than 64 games, these would be amazing odds. However, he needs to play a that many games, if not more, and dominate more than anyone else. He has only played in 52 games or more twice in seven seasons since being drafted.

There is a great case for Embiid to win this award and honestly couldn’t blame anyone for taking that. But +700 for a player on a team with such turmoil as the Philadelphia 76ers is not the value I would like. He is an absolutely unbelievable talent. Embiid is second in odds for a reason. You’re really just betting on his health, because he should easily be top-three in the MVP race if he plays most of his team’s games.

A piece I think could help the dominant big man is a change of pieces around him though. If the Sixers could move Ben Simmons for some pieces better suited for spreading the floor, Embiid could become even more unstoppable in the post.

3 Players to Take for 2022 NBA MVP

Jayson Tatum +2500

There are quite a few things I like about Jayson Tatum for MVP. The first thing is his ability to work during the offseason and improve his game. In four seasons, he has raised his scoring, rebounding, and passing abilities by quite a bit, reaching 26 point, seven rebounds, and four assists in 2021.

The second thing I like about this bet is that number. At +2500, you’re betting on a player who has been improving every season and could come close to averaging 30 this season. If the Boston Celtics can put together a solid season and finish with a top-four seed, there is a huge pay-day waiting for you if he can be named the 2022 NBA MVP.

Trae Young +1800

I have always been a Trae Young sceptic. I’m still not sure what to make of him as an NBA team’s first option. But he did lead his team to an Eastern Conference Finals last season. If he could get back to his 2019-20 production where he averaged almost 30 points and 10 assists while also leading a team that makes a jump in the conference rankings, it could turn some heads.

The Atlanta Hawks have an up-hill climb to jump into the top-four in the Eastern Conference, but with a lucky season in terms of health compared to some of the other teams at the top of the conference, it could surprise teams and give Young the narrative needed to push him into the MVP conversation.

Zion Williamson +4000

There aren’t many players who receive more coverage than the former number-one pick, Zion Williamson. And rightfully so, he has averaged over 25 points and seven rebounds through 85 games in his first two seasons.

If he can improve his defense to more than just insane athleticism and cool blocks, he would move up a lot of boards in player lists. But his true hurdle at this point is the success of the New Orleans Pelicans.

With a new head coach in Willie Green, if the Pelicans can make an improvement with their young core? Maybe make the playoffs? Zion may be good enough to sway some voters if those things can happen. And at +4000, it is worth putting a few dollars on to give some real rooting interest on one of the best young talents to win the 2022 NBA MVP.

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