The NBA season has been hugely entertaining so far, and as we approach the halfway point of the regular season the MVP race is beginning to heat up.
The pretenders and real contenders are beginning to separate themselves, while teams establish their role in the season too which plays a part in who wins the newly-named Michael Jordan trophy, as voted for by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
We'll look at the early favorites to win the award for their performances in the 2022/23 season, and see if we can earn you some extra cash with our best free NBA picks.
|NBA Regular Season MVP|
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NBA MVP favorites
Nikola Jokic - Denver Nuggets (+175)
Nikola Jokic has made a striking rise to the top of the leaderboard, and it’s not hard to see why. The two-time reigning MVP not only has the Nuggets sitting atop the Western Conference standings, but he’s making new strides with his game as well.
Jokic has been the best passing big man in the league for a very long time now, but we’re now reaching a point where he should just be considered the best passer - bar none.
The 27-year-old has been compared to the legendary Magic Johnson with his recent performances, and a third consecutive MVP award really doesn't look that out of the question.
Jokic’s counting stats are absolutely mental too. Through 38 games he is essentially averaging a triple double; he’s averaging 24.9 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game, and a career-high 9.7 assists per game.
Add to that the fact that he is converting at a 61.8% rate from the field, which is several points higher than his previous best mark of 58.3%.
There's still a long way to go but if he manages to keep this up, and there is no reason to suggest he can't, then this title is his to lose once again.
Luka Doncic - Dallas Mavericks (+250)
Tied with Jokic atop the leaderboard is Luka Doncic, who has been a regular in the MVP conversation for several seasons now, and only been beaten to it by Joker.
Although his Mavericks have been inconsistent with their team results this season, Doncic has stayed in the running by dominating individually on a regular basis.
On top of leading the league in points per game with 34.3, Doncic ranks fourth in assists (8.8 per game) and 18th in rebounds (9.0 per gme). It's worth noting that there is nobody ranked higher than him in rebounds per game that isn’t listed as a center or power forward.
Doncic certainly has the individual statistics and accolades necessary to win the award.
The problem he has is that he's competing against someone matching his numbers and playing in a more successful team. He needs his teammates to step it up, or the Nuggets to slow down in order to leapfrog Jokic, but there's good value in this bet.
Jayson Tatum - Boston Celtics (+550)
Once considered an outsider for this award, Boston forward Jayson Tatum is one of the top contenders to win the NBA MVP award as of mid-January.
Helped by the fact his Celtics side have the best record in the NBA at the time of writing, Tatum is posting career-high marks virtually across the board this year. His 30.6 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game are both new bests, while his 4.2 assists per game are right in line with what he’s accomplished over the past two seasons.
Through his first 41 appearances, Tatum has logged more games with 30+ points (22) than 20-29 (15) and 10-19 (4) combined.
As the undisputed best player on the Association’s best team, he deserves to be in this spot, but it still seems unlikely that he wins it.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks (+600)
Should Tatum and the Celtics fall from the top spot in the Eastern Conference, it is likely to be the Greek Freak's Milwaukee Bucks who take their spot, which in turn would certainly see his MVP odds shrink too.
The two-time league MVP has put together a phenomenal first half, averaging a career-high 31.0 points per game alongside 11.9 rebounds per game, and 5.3 assists per game in just 33.7 minutes per game.
If Antetokounmpo keeps his astonishing figures up, it’ll be tough for voters to keep a third MVP trophy away from him considering his popularity among neutrals, so this is a great value bet.
Joel Embiid - Philadelphia 76ers (+1400)
Joel Embiid‘s 76ers are several games behind behind the Celtics and Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings, but his dominance as a scorer simply can’t be overlooked.
One year after leading the league in scoring with 30.6 points per game, Embiid is up to 33.5 points per game through 30 appearances this season and is getting stronger and stronger as the season goes on.
The 28-year-old big man’s season highlight has to be his near-quadruple-double performance against the Jazz, in which he logged 59 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and seven blocks in a seven-point victory. It was a career-best performance that will surely never be topped by him.
If Embiid can lead the league in scoring again — or at least come close to doing so — he’ll deservedly remain a prominent figure in the MVP race, but realistically he won't be claiming an MVP award this year.