The first quarter of the new NBA season flew by, and three players emerged as betting co-favorites to win the 2022-23 Most Valuable Player award after the first 20 games. Luka Doncic (+270 odds) from the Dallas Mavericks, Jayson Tatum (+280) from the Boston Celtics, and Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo (+290) from the Milwaukee Bucks are in a tight three-way race to win the NBA MVP.
NBA MVP voters have two train of thoughts when selecting their pick. They can vote for the player who holds the most value to their team, or they can simply pick the best player from the best team.
The Boston Celtics have the best record in the league at 17-4, and Tatum is the best player on the team. By using that logic, Tatum would garner a significant amount of MVP votes.
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Doncic fits the description as the single player who is the most valuable to his team. The Mavs are only 10-10 this season, but if you remove Doncic from the mix, the Mavs would be one of the worst teams in the Western Conference.
Greek Freak is a combination of both voting methods. He’s the best player from one of the top teams in the league, but the Bucks would collapse without him. The Bucks are the second-best team in the Eastern Conference with a 14-5 record.
Luka Doncic +270
The Mavs and Doncic are the perfect example of a heliocentric offense, where Doncic is the sun at the center of their universe and the team revolves around him. Remove the sun, and the universe collapses. Remove Doncic, and the Mavs are competing with the Houston Rockets for a 2023 NBA Draft Lottery pick.
Doncic, the starting point guard for the Mavs, leads the NBA in scoring averaging 33.5 points per game. He’s also pulling down 8.8 rebounds per game, while dishing 8.6 assists per game.
Doncic exploded for 44 points against the Orlando Magic in late October for his highest-scoring game of the season.
Just last night, Doncic dropped a 41-point triple-double in a victory against the Golden State Warriors. He added 12 rebounds, 12 assists, four steals, and one block in the 3-point victory. It marked his fifth triple-double this season in 19 appearances.
Doncic was the preseason favorite last year to win the MVP, but he finished fifth in voting after Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic won back-to-back MVP awards. Doncic began the new NBA season as the consensus MVP favorite at +425 odds, according to DraftKings. He’s still the betting favorite at +270 odds, but the field is closing in on him.
Meanwhile, Jokic is +2000 odds to win a third-straight MVP, but he’s not really in contention this season. The Nuggets missed two key starters last season due to injuries, and Jokic stepped up to pick up the scoring slack. However, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter are both back in the lineup this season for the Nuggets.
Jayson Tatum +280
The Boston Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. Tatum, the starting power forward for the Celtics, took a lot of guff from fans for his inconsistent play and poor 3-point shooting in the NBA Finals.
The Celtics entered this season on a mission to win a championship. The offseason was not absent of any drama while dealing with Kevin Durant trade rumors. The Celtics also navigated a scandal involving last year’s head coach Ime Udoka. The Celtics suspended Udoka for the season due to an inappropriate relationship with a married female staff member. The Celtics promoted assistant coach Joe Mazzula to interim head coach, and they didn’t skip a beat.
Tatum is averaging a career-best 30.8 points per game, while adding 7.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. A couple of weeks ago, Tatum torched the Detroit Pistons for 43 points and 10 rebounds.
Tatum and the Celtics recently defeated Doncic and the Mavs last week. Doncic scored a game-high 42 points, but Tatum tallied 37 points and led his team to a 13-point victory.
At the start of the NBA season, Tatum was +1400 odds to win the MVP as the seventh favorite on the board. He’s made the biggest jump and finds himself right behind Doncic at +280 odds.
Greek Freak +290
The Milwaukee Bucks posted the best record in the NBA in consecutive seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and the Antetokounmpo won the MVP in both seasons. The Bucks failed to qualify for the NBA Finals in either season and did not win the championship.
Antetokounmpo seeks a third MVP, but he’d rather win another championship than win another personal award. That’s what happened in the 2020-21 season when he finished fourth in the MVP race, but the Bucks won their first NBA championship in 50 seasons.
Antetokounmpo averages 30.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game in 16 appearances this season as the starting power forward with the Bucks. He’s shooting a dismal 22.9% from 3-point range, which is his worst season from beyond the arc since his second year in the NBA nine seasons ago. He’s knocking down only 60% of his free throws, which is a career low. Yet, besides the shaky numbers from the charity stripe, and awful long-range shooting, Antetokounmpo is fourth in the NBA in scoring.
Antetokounmpo scored a season-high 44 points against the Houston Rockets in the second game of the season. He played just 27 minutes, but still torched the Rockets for 44 points and 12 rebounds.
The Antetokounmpo began the NBA season as the second MVP favorite on the board at +600 odds. He’s currently third at +290 odds, but it’s a super close race with Doncic at +270 and Tatum at +280.
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