Could this finally be the year?
After another dominant performance Wednesday night in a win over the Cavaliers, Joel Embiid is now the betting favorite to take home the NBA’s MVP award. Embiid’s odds are now at -110 with Nikola Jokic at +150 and Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting in third at +350, per DraftKings. (The numbers are changing constantly … and Embiid’s odds got better overnight.)
It comes as Embiid is in the midst of an extremely impressive stretch. The star center is averaging 36 points on 59.7 percent from the field while playing phenomenal defense over his last nine. The Sixers came out of the All-Star break with the toughest strength of schedule remaining in the league and are 8-3 so far, including six wins in a row. Since starting the season 12-12, the Sixers are 34-10, the best mark in the NBA over that time.
Jokic has felt like a runaway winner for most of the season. The two-time reigning MVP has put together another impressive season, averaging a triple-double and leading the Nuggets to the best record out West. While the Serbian big man has continued to play well, Denver has dropped its last four — with a couple in pretty ugly fashion.
As far as betting goes, Giannis at +350 probably gives you your best chance to make money. The Greek Freak has still been great despite a right wrist injury. The Bucks currently have the best record in the NBA, which could weirdly work against Antetokounmpo for the award. If Milwaukee can sow up the one seed in the East, it could give them a chance to rest Giannis’ wrist down the stretch.
Embiid was in a similar spot last year, neck and neck with Jokic as the season was winding down. He still has road dates with each of Jokic (March 27) and Antetokounmpo (April 2) that could sway voters.
The Sixers have a back-to-back coming up — they’ll be in Charlotte on Friday and Indiana on Saturday. It could be an opportune time to give Embiid a day off with just 14 games remaining.
Oh, and happy birthday, big fella.