Joel Embiid is not the NBA MVP
favorite anymore. He is not even second. That spot now belongs to
The All-Star center for the
Philadelphia now sits in third place after injuring his left knee
-- the team is calling it a bone bruise.The Sixers said he will be re-evaluated in two
weeks, and multiple media outlets said he could be back in three
DraftKings, the No. 2 sports
gambling site in the legalized U.S. marketplace, took down its MVP
odds overnight and then put them back up at midday Saturday. LeBron
James is back to being the favorite at 3/2 (+150), and Jokic of the
Denver Nuggets is second at 2-1.
Embiid is +426 at DraftKings and
+600 at FanDuel, where spokesman Kevin Hennesey said he has the
book’s single biggest liability all season in the MVP
DraftKings had its own
“The news could have been
worse,” said Johnny Avello, head oddsmaker at DraftKings. “The guy
was putting up MVP numbers every single night, but LeBron was right
behind him, and money continues to flow in on LeBron. Also, three
weeks could turn into something more, whereas there are no unknowns
with the other two guys (James and Jokic)."
Philadelphia has a one-game lead
over the Brooklyn Nets as the top team in the Eastern Conference
heading into Saturday night’s games, as Doc Rivers and Co. have won
four in a row. In fact, the top four teams in the conference – the
Sixers, Nets, Bucks and Heat – have all begun to string together
The Nets have 3/1 odds and the
Sixers are 12/1 to win the championship, a sign that gamblers are
putting their team bets on Brooklyn even though Embiid has been
drawing a large percentage of the MVP money.
“LeBron James is now the
favorite at +150 in the MVP market at the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Embiid’s recent injury news has moved Jokic (+230) and James ahead
of the 76ers' big man. Embiid has been a customer favorite all
year," FanDuel's Hennesy said. "He opened the season at +3600 and
Embiid’s impressive season has seen his MVP odds go below +550 and
garner 20% of all bets in the MVP market. The MVP race is going to
be interesting to watch."
The news also comes as gamblers
are turning their attention to the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis,
where most of America will get its first extended look as projected
No. 1 draft pick Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys
have reached the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament and will be on
ESPN tonight against Texas.
But back to the subject matter
-- the Embiid injury looked quite serious when it happened, and a
stretcher was brought onto the court before Embiid walked off under
his own power.
Despite the sportsbooks pretty
much making it look like a three-man race, NBA writers typically do
not make up their minds about an award this early in the season.
They did last year with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but that was under
different circumstances because the Bucks had a 53-12 record when
the season was halted due to the pandemic. Nine times out of 10,
maybe more, the award is up for grabs at the midway point of the
This season, James Harden of the
Brooklyn Nets is a viable candidate, as is Devin Booker of the
Phoenix Suns, who took a five-game winning streak into Saturday
night’s game against Indiana and have won 17 of their last 20. Like
Harden in Brooklyn, Booker faces the prospect of a teammate (Chris
Paul) getting equal credit for his team’s success.
But this award is going to be
won over the second half of the season, and Booker is currently
150-1 at DraftKings. That is not a misprint.