NBA player futures best bets at the all-star break: Embiid still the man

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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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The NBA All-Star Game has come and gone, so the proverbial second half of the season will get underway later this week. Of course, it’s not really the halfway point at all – except for maybe the two teams that end up playing in the NBA Finals. It’s basically the three-fourths mark of the 2021-22 campaign, so we already have a pretty good idea of not only the playoff picture but also the race for certain individual honors. Tyler Herro (Sixth Man of the Year) and Ja Morant (Most Improved Player) might as well be locks, but other awards are up for grabs.

Let’s take a look at the odds and best bets for the awards that are still in play at the all-star break.


Joel Embiid +145
Nikola Jokic +270
Giannis Antetokounmpo +400
Stephen Curry +850
Ja Morant +1100
Devin Booker +1800
DeMar DeRozan +2200

Best bet: Joel Embiid +145

Curry cooked up a well-deserved All-Star Game MVP, but when teams actually play defense like they do in the regular season (and in the fourth quarter of the ASG), he hasn’t been able to throw it in the ocean in recent weeks. I can’t see him catching Embiid in this race, and perhaps the same can be said for Jokic and Antetokounmpo. They have been great, but Embiid is just outstanding. James Harden is now on board in Philadelphia, but one of two things will happen: Harden will make an instant impact and the Sixers climb to the top spot in the Eastern Conference, or Harden remains hurt and Embiid continues to be a borderline one-man show. Either way, the big guy’s stock improves. Keep in mind that Seth Curry is gone, so Embiid may have to shoulder even more of the scoring load while Harden is sidelined. The former Kansas star is a man on a mission this season; at plus money he should not be passed up.

Rookie of the Year

Evan Mobley -500
Cade Cunningham +750
Scottie Barnes +750
Josh Giddey +1100

Best bet: Josh Giddey +1100

Is Mobley a borderline lock? Yes. Does he have any value at -500? No. That takes us to Cunningham and Barnes, who have been good but unspectacular. Cunningham’s Pistons may end up with the worst record in the association and if Barnes’ Raptors miss the playoffs then the door could be open for Giddey. Obviously the Thunder are one of the worst teams around, but Giddey’s numbers are such that he can overcome team deficiencies. The 19-year-old Aussie has been doing it all with 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game. He delivered three consecutive triple-doubles heading into the break, too. If you are willing to take a bit of risk, Giddey at +1100 is without question the way to go.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Oklahoma City.

Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert +180
Draymond Green +200
Giannis Antetokounmpo +425
Jaren Jackson Jr. +700

Best bet: Rudy Gobert +180

Green is Gobert’s stiffest competition, but the Warriors’ veteran forward has been sidelined since early January because of a back injury. Golden State is not going to catch the Suns no matter how much time Chris Paul misses (out 6 to 8 weeks because of a thumb injury) and isn’t going to fall below the No. 3 seed in the West, so there is no need to rush Green back. No name in the league is more synonymous with defense than Rudy Gobert. He has been up to his usual tricks this season with 2.3 blocks and 0.8 steals per game. With Utah (36-22) in decent enough form, this is Gobert’s award to lose…. And he won’t.

Coach of the Year

Monty Williams -250
JB Bickerstaff +320
Taylor Jenkins +600
Billy Donovan +700
Erik Spoelstra +900

Best bet: Taylor Jenkins +600

Coach of the Year, of course, basically goes to whoever coaches the team that compiled the best record relative to expectations. Well, the Grizzlies are 41-19 at the break — good for third place in the Western Conference (and also third in the entire NBA). Expectations were not exactly low given that Morant is on the roster and this team earned a playoff spot last season, but at the same time expectations were most definitely not at a 41-19 level. Obviously Morant will get a lot of the credit, but having one star certainly doesn’t guarantee success. Heck, having multiple stars doesn’t guarantee anything. Just ask the Lakers! Williams is the favorite, but if the Suns go downhill while Paul is out then things could change. Jump on Jenkins now at +600.

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