It’s only fitting that one day after Joel Embiid became the fastest player to reach 10,000 points in Philadelphia 76ers franchise history, we’re reminded that (to paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield) he don’t get no respect at the national level. This morning, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps released the site’s second MVP straw poll of the season, asking 100 media members to mimic the postseason awards voting process. The results are in, and prepare to groan, Sixers fans:
If I’m to be honest, I don’t find Embiid being third particularly disrespectful, and it’s certainly a far cry better than his 10th place spot in the first poll back in December. Both Nikola Jokic’s Nuggets and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have better records than the Sixers and you can parse the individual numbers any different number of ways, but these guys are all in the same stratosphere. We can also roll out the ol’ company line of Joel no longer being concerned with individual awards, he just wants a title.
Still, it’s disheartening that we’re coming down the pike of yet another season in which Embiid puts together historically great numbers, and future generations won’t see those fancy award icons on Basketball Reference to commemorate it. So while finishing second or third in the MVP voting once again is objectively a tremendous accomplishment for Joel, it definitely has a Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” vibe about it.
Now, we turn to how we could possibly make money off this situation. In looking at the current MVP odds courtesy of our friends at DraftKings, Jokic is a heavy favorite at minus-250. Embiid is second at plus-425, while Antetokounmpo (+700), Luka Doncic (+1200), and Jayson Tatum (+1400) round out the top five.
For me, the safe play is to just put some money on Jokic. If everything stays relatively consistent over the final 25 or so games of the season, the Joker is going to be the clear runaway winner. Minus-250 isn’t that much juice to have to lay for a guy who is a much heavier favorite according to the participating media members.
Meanwhile, if going for the best value is more your cup of tea, you might want to place some money down on Giannis. He is getting the third-best odds, while finishing second in the straw poll. The Bucks are definitely surging at the moment, winning 11 straight games coming into tonight’s contest against Chicago. If Milwaukee continues their ascent and finishes ahead of Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, I could definitely see more folks siding with the Greek Freak if Denver and/or Jokic experience any sort of setback over this final portion of the season.
Of course, I’m not going to tell you Philadelphia fans not to place a wager on Joel either. You might find it very cathartic to yell “They hate the Process!” at the top of your lungs while staring at a losing wager when the media slights our guy yet again this summer.