NBA News: Joel Embiid Overtakes LeBron James in MVP Award Odds

Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid has finally overtaken LeBron James as the favorite to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

After averaging a 30.2/11.6/3.3 stat line all season, BetOnline has decided to increase Embiid’s odds. As of March 4, his odds have moved from +275 to +190. James has fallen to second, moving from +160 to +220. One reason behind this change could be the fact that the Lakers haven’t been playing great as of late. Anthony Davis has been injured and the team has been 3-7 in their last 10 games.

Meanwhile, Embiid’s 76ers have a 24-12 record and sit first-place in the Eastern Conference. If Embiid continues to play at an MVP-level, there’s no reason he won’t stay on top of the odds.

One other notable difference to the top odds is that Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was listed at +2500 on March 3. He is no longer anywhere on BetOnline’s list.

2021 NBA Regular Season MVP Odds

Odds via BetOnline as of Thursday, March 4

  • Joel Embiid +190
  • LeBron James +220
  • Nikola Jokic +375
  • Luka Doncic +1100
  • James Harden +1200
  • Stephen Curry +1600
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +1800
  • Damian Lillard +2000
  • Kawhi Leonard +2500
  • Donovan Mitchell +3300

Embiid Leads NBA MVP Race

There really isn’t anyone else in the league doing what Embiid is doing. In fact, Embiid has never played at this level in his career before. He’s averaging career-highs in points (30.2), steals (1.2) and shooting splits (.521/.416/.856). The 76ers have been at the top of the Eastern Conference all season because of Embiid’s play.

At the start of the 2020-21 NBA Season, people wondered if what Embiid was doing was sustainable. He’s proved that it is. He has five 40+ point games this season, including a 40-point game on March 3 against the Utah Jazz with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert guarding him.

Jokic’s Odds Staying Steady

At +375 to win the NBA MVP Award, Nikola Jokic has been hovering around the top odds all season. The Denver Nuggets center is averaging 27.3/11.0/8.6 this season — nearly a triple-double being averaged every game. If you compare that to his stats last season (19.9/9.7/7.0), it’s clear that Jokic has taken things to another level.

One of the biggest storylines of last season’s NBA Bubble was how the Nuggets shocked teams. Most of this was because of Jokic and Jamal Murray playing like superstars. Now, Jokic has shown that he’s been able to do it on a nightly basis. The only thing that may hold back Jokic’s chances is that the Nuggets are seventh in Western Conference. If their placement rises, so will Jokic’s MVP odds.

Lakers Struggles Hurt James’ Chances

If Anthony Davis never got injured, LeBron James may still be leading the NBA MVP race. Even though the Lakers are tied for third in the Western Conference, they’re sliding down the standings as the team can’t get it done in Davis’ absence. Los Angeles is 3-6 since Davis got injured on Feb. 14. But that slide isn’t because of James not playing well.

In fact, James has been averaging 27.0/8.1/7.1 while Davis has been injured. However, James missed his first game of the season on March 3. If he continues needing to rest for games and if the Lakers keep descending down the standings, James’ NBA MVP odds could be in jeopardy.

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Devon Platana
After graduating with a Masters degree in Journalism, Devon joined USGS to improve his sports writing skills. As a lifelong sports fan, one of Devon’s favorite things to do is analyze statistics across all sports.