Best NBA Player Futures Bets, Odds & Predictions: Nikola Jokic for a 3rd straight MVP?
All-star weekend has come and gone which means the majority of the regular season has been completed. Teams have between 21 and 25 games left before the playoffs, so we are coming down to the home stretch of the 2022-2023 NBA season. While teams like the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks have their sights set on an NBA title, other teams like the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons are all in on French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Along with team futures to win the division, conference and title, there are 5 player awards that deserve attention. Those awards are the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year. I have included the odds for the top candidates for each award along with my best bets.
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NBA Player Futures Odds
Most Valuable Player
In the last 4 years the MVP award has been awarded to just 2 players. Both are in the running again this season, with one of them expected to win their third MVP award in a row. Giannis Antetokounmpo won it back-to-back times before being dethroned by Nikola Jokic, who has won the award the last 2 years and is the favorite to be the first player to win back-to-back-to-back MVPs since Larry Bird in the mid-1980s. Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic are all having monumental seasons, but considering that Jokic is averaging a triple-double, they may have to try again next season.
- Nikola Jokic (-240)
- Joel Embiid (+600)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700)
- Jayson Tatum (+1800)
- Luka Doncic (+2100)
Rookie of the Year
Paolo Banchero had high expectations coming into this season, and it’s safe to say he’s met or surpassed them. The former #1 overall pick was the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award coming into the season at +200 and was the clear choice for the entire first half of the season. While rookies like Bennedict Mathurin and Walker Kessler have had solid debut seasons in the association, it might be too little too late to catch Banchero.
- Paolo Banchero (-1000)
- Bennedict Mathurin (+950)
- Walker Kessler (+3500)
- Jaden Ivey (+6500)
- Jalen Williams (+10000)
Defensive Player of the Year
Marcus Smart broke the 25-year-long streak of this award being given to a forward last season. However, a new streak will begin this season as the top 5 candidates for the award are all forwards. Jackson Jr. is in his fifth NBA season and is having a career year, which includes averaging 3.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He is the favorite to win the award at the break, but Brook Lopez and Bam Adebayo are more than capable of a late-season surge to steal it away.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (-180)
- Brook Lopez (+550)
- Bam Adebayo (+800)
- Nic Claxton (+950)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+2900)
Most Improved Player
The award for Most Improved Player has become a 3-man race. Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been unstoppable this season and was 1 of only 7 players to average at least 30 points per game in the first half of the season (30.8). As for a more unexpected breakout season, Lauri Markkanen has made a name for himself in Utah. Following a decent career in Chicago and then a mediocre 1-year stint in Cleveland, Markkanen has upped his points per game from 14.8 last year to 24.9 this year. And in his first season in the Big Apple, Jalen Brunson has loved the spotlight. He is averaging the highest points, assists, steals and blocks per game while also shooting over 40% from 3-point land.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+135)
- Lauri Markkanen (+135)
- Jalen Brunson (+350)
- Tyrese Haliburton (+5000)
- Nic Claxton (+9000)
Sixth Man of the Year
While these players may not start, they still have a major impact on the game. Similar to the Most Improved Player award, this race seems to be between three players, with one leading the pack. Malcolm Brogdon has been spectacular for the Boston Celtics off the bench and has been a vital part of the second unit when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are off the floor. Out west, Norman Powell might be the most efficient scorer off the bench in the league, as he averages 17 points per game in 25 minutes of work. And for the Sixers, Tyrese Maxey is an exceptional scorer who averages nearly 20 points off the bench and brings a defensive boost to the game.
- Malcolm Brogdon (-155)
- Norman Powell (+410)
- Tyrese Maxey (+410)
- Russell Westbrook (+1200)
- Bennedict Mathurin (+6500)
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NBA Players Futures Best Bets
Most Improved Player – Lauri Markkanen (+135)
The race for the Most Improved Player has been a battle between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lauri Markkanen for the last few weeks. Jalen Brunson has become a decent third candidate, but respectfully this is between Gilgeous-Alexander and Markkanen. Just a few weeks ago Markkanen had minus odds next to his name for this award. By the time the All-Star Game rolled around, his odds crept above even for the first time in a while. For that reason I’m all in on the Finnish star. Markkanen is seeing a career-high in minutes and making the most of each one, as he is shooting over 50% from the floor, 40% from 3-point land and nearly 90% from the line — all career bests.
The 7’0” star averaged 28.5 points per game in January and is only getting more confident in his role as the star in Utah. Although SGA is averaging more points per game, I would argue that he was still a great player last season and did not take the massive step forward that Markkanen took this season. Markkanen has gone from an above-average role player to a certified bucket; and he has been the most improved player this season.
Sixth Man of the Year – Malcolm Brogdon (-155)
Malcolm Brogdon’s odds to win Sixth Man of the Year continue to drop as the season goes on. He has been a vital piece of Boston’s success this season and brings a veteran presence to a very young core group of players. While Brogdon only averages 14.7 points per game, which is less than Norman Powell and Tyrese Maxey, he contributes in several other factors of the game. He averages 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 0.6 steals per game in just an average of 25.3 minutes played. But the most impressive part is that Brogdon went into the break leading the NBA in 3-point percentage.
He shot 45.5% from 3-point land in the first half of the season, by far the best of his career. Brogdon also is shooting nearly 50% from the floor and 90% from the line, so his shooting is the best it’s been in his entire career. His odds to win this award will probably only get shorter, so I’ll grab it now while I can.
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