Jokic, Luka lead NBA MVP race as season enters second half

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Jokic, Luka lead NBA MVP race as season enters second half originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The NBA All-Star Game is less than a month away, but the league’s biggest stars are already setting up an enticing MVP race.

All-Star starters and team captains will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 26, and the list will feature a number of MVP candidates. From previous winners to players chasing their first MVP honor, the chase for the newly named Michael Jordan Trophy will be a good one.

Let’s take stock of the 2022-23 MVP contenders as the regular season moves past the midway point.

Who is the favorite to win the NBA MVP?

Nikola Jokic is making a run for an MVP three-peat.

The Denver Nuggets center is the two-time reigning winner of the award, and he’s ahead of the pack once again. With a near-triple-double average of 24.7 points (16th in NBA), 10.9 rebounds (T-5th) and 9.8 assists (T-2nd) per game, Jokic has the league’s top MVP odds at +160, according to our partner, PointsBet.

Luke Doncic is close behind Jokic. The Dallas Mavericks star leads the NBA in scoring with a whopping 33.8 points per game, setting him up with +230 odds.

There’s a tie for third-best odds between two leaders on Eastern Conference powerhouses. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks are firmly in the MVP mix with +550 odds.

Here is a look at the top 11 candidates in the NBA’s MVP race right now:

Did the NBA rename the MVP trophy?

This year’s most valuable player will be the first to take home the new Michael Jordan Trophy. The NBA redesigned and renamed its major, end-of-season awards in December and chose to honor the Chicago Bulls legend in the process.

The NBA also announced the Jerry West Trophy (Clutch Player of the Year), Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year), Wilt Chamberlain Trophy (Rookie of the Year), John Havlicek Trophy (Sixth Man of the Year) and George Mikan Trophy (Most Improved Player).

How many NBA players have been MVP?

Thirty-five players have been named NBA MVP.

Fifteen of those players were multi-time winners, while 20 earned the award once.

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.