With over two weeks of the 2023-24 NBA season now in the books, the NBA early MVP odds remain mainly the same as it opened albeit tighter. Nikola Jokic, the two-time MVP, has gone from his opening line of +450 now to +250. And right behind him is his Balkan peer, Luka Doncic now at +400 from +600. Denver and Dallas are the hottest NBA teams in the West. But can the latter keep up?
The NBA MVP Race: The Top Contenders
Jokic For Three or Doncic’s Year?
Jokic and Doncic have been tearing up the league for the last few seasons. But the former has a pair of MVPs, a Finals MVP, and an NBA title. The latter has yet to win any. Could this finally be his year? It depends if his Mavericks can maintain their spot atop the NBA standings. Otherwise, Denver will keep rolling and Jokic wins his third.
Only eight players have won the NBA MVP award three or more times, with LeBron James being the most recent one to do it a decade ago. Jokic has short odds to do it again this NBA season. He currently leads the league win shares (2.1) while averaging a career-high 29.1 points per game. That’s on top of 12.9 rebounds and eight assists.
As for Doncic, he is second only to Joel Embiid in scoring: 31.5 points per game. He’s also adding 9.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists with 1.4 steals. He’s having his best season based on the NBA player stats. Dallas is 6-2 with one their losses coming against Denver.
Dallas is mainly winning games by outscoring teams. It ranks third in the NBA with a 118.3 offensive rating. Doncic can stay on pace in the NBA MVP race provided this formula continues to work. He’s already popular among voters though, historically, NBA MVP winners tend to come from teams who finish in the top two of their conference.
Tatum and Embiid Lead the East’s MVP Frontrunners
Over in the East, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid have the shortest NBA early MVP odds at +750 and +800, respectively. Their lines have mainly stayed the same from their openers as both Philadelphia and Boston are at the top of the conference.
Boston started 5-0 but have lost consecutive NBA games. Tatum is averaging 28.4 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 53.7% from the field. He’s another potential first-time winner alongside Doncic. Bost, which is tied with Milwaukee for the shortest odds to win the East, can finish first and Tatum could win MVP by virtue of being the main man on the NBA’s best team.
As for Embiid, the reigning MVP could be the third straight back-to-back winner if Philadelphia can stay on top of the standings. His case will be strengthened with James Harden’s departure. He’s also leading the league in scoring with 31.7 points per game. But averaging a career-high 5.9 assists while hitting 1.4 3-pointers at a 40% rate shows how much he’s developed his game.
Wembanyama’s Odds: So You’re Saying There’s A Chance?
As for the prized rookie, Victor Wembanyama has been having a solid debut in the NBA. His early NBA MVP odds have been cut in half going from an opener of 100-1 now to 50-1. Maybe this is a few sharps hammering his line or it’s false hope that the Spurs, currently 3-5, have a shot to make the NBA playoffs?
Only two rookies have won the prestigious award in the NBA’s 77-year history: Wilt Chamberlain in 1959-60 and Wes Unseld in 1968-69. Chamberlain set multiple NBA records while Unseld took the last-placed Bullets and made them first. So unless Wembanyama can do one of the two, we’re not holding our breaths.
He’ll be a good NBA future bet to win the MVP at some point. But we won’t count the Spurs out entirely, especially not when they’ve shown flashes as they did against the Suns.