The NBA MVP race remains one of the most heated debates for the 2021-22 season. Denver Nuggets C Nikola Jokic is the reigning MVP and has been chasing Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid for what seems like the entire season.
That chase ended overnight on Tuesday into Wednesday when Jokic jumped Embiid as the betting favorite to win MVP at -125 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Embiid is now at -105 after being -200 on Sunday. Jokic had been +150 over the weekend and jumped to +130 early this week. So how should you approach the line and can we gather anything from the final week and a half of the regular season.
Right now, Jokic is the play. Chances are you aren’t going to see this number shift back the other way. The only way that happens is if Embiid goes nuclear and the Sixers somehow jump three teams to capture the No. 1 seed. Philly’s schedule could make this easy. We also may see the Sixers take things easy with Embiid down the stretch so he’s fresh for the playoffs. The Sixers’ loss to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night was likely a big reason for the MVP shift.
It also had to do with an ESPN article that had Jokic as the runaway winner of MVP straw poll. The poll had Jokic outpacing Embiid 62-29 in first place votes. That was before Tuesday night when Embiid lost to the Bucks. It was also after Jokic posted another triple-double in a win over the Hornets.
The straw poll isn’t just smoke. It gave us a pretty good view into how the MVP voters may sway after the regular season. It’s hard to argue against Jokic winning MVP again. He’s having a better season than 2020-21 and the Nuggets are most likely going to be a playoff team despite facing adversity. Jokic has carried them this far without Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray.
A lot of the hype surrounding Embiid was created by the media, not to say that he wasn’t and isn’t deserving of MVP. If Jokic didn’t exist, the MVP would be Embiid. It has less to do with the Sixers big man and more to do with the case for Jokic.