Leading the Pack: Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Dominate NBA MVP Discussion

The NBA is reaching the halfway point of the season and two players have distinguished themselves as the top MVP candidates but who will win: Nikola Jokic or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

Joel Embiid, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player from the Philadelphia 76ers, sustained a torn meniscus in his left knee. He will miss several weeks of action while recovering from surgery.

Prior to his knee injury, Embiid was the betting favorite at +115 odds to win the MVP in consecutive seasons. He’s now out of the MVP race because players must log a minimum of 65 games to be eligible for regular season awards.

Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets is the current betting favorite to win the MVP at -160, according to a recent update by most sportsbooks.


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Jokic Two-Time Winner

Jokic won the MVP in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. Embiid edged out Jokic last season and denied him three-straight MVP awards. Jokic got the last laugh, however, when he led the Nuggets to their first championship.

The defending champion Nuggets are among four teams jockeying for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Through the first 50 games this season, Jokic guided the Nuggets to a 34-16 record.

Jokic averages 26.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game this season. He also tallied 15 triple-doubles.

Jokic was the preseason favorite to win the 2024 MVP at +450 odds, but Embiid emerged as the favorite in the first quarter of the season. Now that Embiid is sidelined, Jokic returned to the top of the NBA awards board at -115 odds.

Gilgeous-Alexander Close Behind

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander a.k.a. SGA has been playing out of his mind the last two seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s getting more MVP attention this year because the Thunder are in contention for the top playoff seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder posted a 35-15 record through the 50-game mark.

SGA led the Thunder in scoring last season with 31.4 points per game. He’s currently ranked No. 3 in the NBA in scoring by averaging 31.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game.

In the preseason, you could’ve backed SGA to win the MVP at +1700 odds. He’s currently second on the BetMGM’s awards board at +240 odds.


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Can Antetokounmpo Win Again?

Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo won the MVP in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2020. The Milwaukee Bucks has +700 odds to snag a third MVP, and he’s third overall on the awards board behind Jokic and SGA.

Even though the Milwaukee Bucks added All-Star Damian Lillard in a trade, Antetokounmpo is posting a career-high in scoring with 31.1 points per game this season. He also averages 11.2 rebounds, while dishing 6.4 assists per game.

The Bucks are sorting out their own internal issues. They fired head coach Mike Budenholzer after a disappointing exit in last year’s playoffs. The Bucks hired rookie head coach Adrian Griffin, but then fired him in January despite a 30-13 start. Doc Rivers took over as head coach, but the Bucks struggled in recent weeks while adjusting to their midseason coaching change.

Leading Scorer Doncic in the Mix

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic leads the NBA in scoring this season. A sizzling Doncic torched the Atlanta Hawks for 73 points in late January during an iconic performance.

Doncic averages a career-best 34.6 points and 9.5 assists per game. He pulls down 8.8 rebounds per game, and notched nine triple-doubles this season.

Doncic, who is seeking his first MVP, was among the preseason MVP favorites at +550 odds. Despite his voluminous offensive output, Doncic’s MVP odds slipped to +1200 because the Mavs have been inconsistent. If the season ended today, the Mavs would have to fight for a playoff seed via the Western Conference Play-In Tournament.


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