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There won't be a lot of intrigue in the NBA's annual awards, if the betting market is accurate.
Every one of the five major player awards, including MVP, has an overwhelming favorite as the regular season reaches its final days. Not one of the projected winners was a big favorite before the season, but they all are now.
That includes an unlikely MVP winner who is going to be a good result for BetMGM.
Nikola Jokic is huge MVP favorite
Nikola Jokic is about to become the first Denver Nuggets player to ever win NBA MVP, and he's going to do so in a landslide.
Jokic's odds have tumbled all the way to -2000, meaning a bettor would have to bet $200 at BetMGM to win $10 on the Nuggets center winning MVP. Joel Embiid is +1200, if you want to take a shot on East Coast bias flipping the award late, Stephen Curry is +1800 and everyone else is at least +4000.
For someone who had +2500 odds to win MVP before the season, Jokic winning isn't bad for BetMGM. Jokic was an established star, but not considered an MVP candidate. The Nuggets don't play in a huge NBA market and Jokic's phenomenal all-around game isn't ready-made for highlights. He didn't get many bets at those big odds. But he has had a nearly historic offensive season and due to injuries from Embiid, LeBron James and others, it's clear he's the MVP. Not many bet him at the longest odds (only 13% of tickets on MVP at BetMGM are on Jokic), so the house is happy.
"NBA MVP is the most bet prop and Nikola Jokic winning the award would be a good outcome for the sportsbook,” BetMGM sports trader Seamus Magee said.
Other awards have clear favorites
LaMelo Ball had a rockier road to being the clear rookie of the year favorite. Ball was the big leader as March started, then injured his wrist and it looked like someone like Anthony Edwards would catch him while he sat out. But Ball returned to the Charlotte Hornets and has resumed being great. He is the -750 favorite to win the award. Ball's opening odds were +400.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who opened as +300 to win defensive player of the year, is now an overwhelming -1600 favorite. Julius Randle of the New York Knicks is -5000 to win most improved player, and that's well deserved. Of all the money bet on that award, 61% is on Randle, who is having a monster season for the playoff-bound Knicks. Randle was +900 to win the award before the season. Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz is a fine candidate for sixth man of the year and the odds reflect that at -1000. He was also +900 before the season.
That seems to be a wrap. It would have been fun to see if Embiid could hunt down Jokic for MVP or if Edwards could push past Ball in the final weeks, but it doesn't seem like there is much intrigue. If one of those five favorites doesn't win, it will be a shock to bettors and the house too.
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