Can the Joker or Giannis claim a third trophy?
Or will the next tier of contenders breakthrough?
BetDeluxe breaks down the major candidates for this year’s MVP.
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Can the Joker make it three MVPs in four years?
After missing out on the three-peat during the Nuggets’ championship run last season, punters firmly believe the award will return to Denver this year with Jokic as $5 favourite.
The Serbian superstar put up incredible numbers once again last season with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and a career-high 9.8 assists. His 29 triple-doubles ranked sixth all-time, with just Russell Westbrook (3x), Oscar Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain ranking higher.
His ability to take over when required was never more prevalent than in last year’s finals, with the Joker putting up 30 points, 13.5 boards and 9.5 assists.
While the Nuggets are surprisingly third favourites for this year’s championship behind the Bucks and Celtics, it would take a brave punter to ignore the Jokic and Jamal Murray combination as they prepare to go back-to-back.
Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
The Mavericks will be counting on significant improvement following last season’s disastrous conclusion, whereby they missed the Western Conference playoffs with five losses from their final six games.
If that improvement is to come, it will be the Slovenian master leading the charge.
Doncic has been nothing short of a revelation since joining Dallas as the #3 overall draft pick in 2018, with career averages of 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game. Despite Kyrie Irving’s inclusion last season, Doncic took his game to another level, with his 32.4ppg ranking second behind league leader and MVP Joel Embiid.
While he will miss the Mav’s final preseason hit-out against the Pistons with a calf injury, the team is optimistic he’ll return for the season-opener against the Spurs.
His $6 quote is certainly short enough at this point of the year, but if the Mavs get a roll on as expected, jump on before you miss the price.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
The Joker isn’t the only superstar vying for a third MVP this season, with Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo currently $6.50 to win the award for the first time since 2020.
Many pundits argue he was incredibly stiff to miss out on the award last season after putting up a career-high 31.1ppg alongside 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Losing to Miami in the first round of the playoffs was clearly the death knell on his triple crown.
Milwaukee has added serious firepower with the acquisition of Damian Lillard over the off-season, giving them arguably the most talented one-two punch in the NBA.
As such, an Eastern Conference Finals appearance would be a minimum requirement for Giannis and his team, giving him every chance to put his name in lights once again.
Devin Booker (Suns)
The biggest thing standing in the way of a potential MVP-winning season from the star Suns guard comes in the shape of a 208cm power forward wearing the #35 jersey.
Yes, playing alongside Kevin Durant ($15) does hurt one’s chances of dominating in the fashion required to win the highest individual accolade in the NBA, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Booker has been on an upward trajectory since entering the league in 2015, culminating in a career-high 27.8ppg from his 53 games in 2022/23. If not for a groin injury curtailing his season, there’s no telling what kind of damage Booker could have done and how far the Suns could have progressed in the post-season.
If the Suns ($6.50) can make a legitimate run at this year’s NBA Championship, there’s no doubt Kobe Bryant’s protégé will be at the forefront of it all. It’s certainly worth the risk at $21.