NBA MVP Odds: It's Nikola Jokic's World -- We're Just Living In It

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere

Every year, the NBA MVP is one of the most fiercely contested and debated awards in professional sports.

For 17 seasons, from 2004 to 2020, no centers won the award. Since 2020, only centers have won it.

Last year's winner -- Joel Embiid -- finally broke through after finishing as the runner-up multiple times before. Combined with Nikola Jokic, the two big men have finished in the top two in MVP votes in each of the last three seasons. Will their dominance extend into the 2023-24 campaign?

Let's break down the NBA MVP odds at FanDuel Sportsbook and take a look at some of the top options. Here are the top seven by odds:

2023-24 NBA MVP Odds
1Nikola JokicCDenver Nuggets+430
2Giannis AntetokounmpoSFMilwaukee Bucks+500
3Luka DoncicPGDallas Mavericks+650
4Joel EmbiidCPhiladelphia 76ers+700
5Jayson TatumFBoston Celtics+800
6Kevin DurantFPhoenix Suns+1400
7Stephen CurryGGolden State Warriors+1400
View Full Table

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets (+430)

The odds say centers will continue to dominate. After winning the NBA Championship last season, Jokic is currently the favorite to win MVP. It would be the third MVP of his career and third in the last four seasons.

After finishing in second place in last season's MVP voting, Jokic took his game to another level in the playoffs. He put together a scintillating postseason performance, leading the Denver Nuggets to their first championship while averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Looking ahead, Denver has the best odds to win the West (+240) and the second-best odds to win the NBA Championship (+480). All of the pieces are in place for Denver to remain a powerhouse at the very top of the league -- with Jokic at the center of it all.

With two MVPs, a runner-up, and an NBA Championship in his last three seasons, Jokic has made the league his own. The path to this year's MVP runs through Jokic and will likely require a legendary season to best him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks (+500)

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the last non-center to win the award, which he picked up for his impressive 2018-19 season. Since then, he has finished fourth, third, and third in MVP voting. At +500, Antetokounmpo is the most likely challenger to Jokic, per the odds, and his odds are closer to Jokic's than anyone else's odds are to his.

Antetokounmpo's place on this list is, of course, well deserved. He won back-to-back MVPs before Jokic earned his first. Winning three MVPs in a row is an incredibly difficult feat. It hasn't happened since Larry Bird's run from 1984 to 1986. Since then, nine players have won back-to-back MVPs and failed to win the third.

Last season, Antetokounmpo averaged more points per game (31.1) than he did during either of his MVP-winning seasons. He certainly hasn't lost a step, and with the Milwaukee Bucks re-signing Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez this offseason, Antetokounmpo's squad should be in contention for the top spot in the East again this season.

The Bucks have the second-best odds to win the East (+290) and the third-best odds to win the NBA Championship (+600).

Entering his 11th season in the league, Antetokounmpo remains an elite annual contender for the game's highest honor.

Luka Doncic, PG, Dallas Mavericks (+650)

Luka Doncic is the first player on this that hasn't already won an MVP. Since entering the league, the highest he's finished in MVP voting was 4th in his sophomore season in 2019-20. Since then, he has finished 6th, 5th, and 8th.

Despite the Dallas Mavericks missing the playoffs last season, the future remains bright for Doncic. The former third overall pick in the 2018 draft had the best offensive season of his career last year, posting career-highs in points per game (32.4) and field goal percentage (49.6%).

The largest question mark for Doncic is his team. Over the last five seasons, the MVP winner's team has an average finishing position in their conference of 2.8. The lowest finish for an MVP winner's squad during that stretch was the Nuggets, who finished 6th in the West when Jokic won the award in 2021-22.

The Mavs finished 11th in the West last season. Their odds to win the West this season are tied for 6th (+1200), the worst conference odds of any of the seven players on this list.

Doncic can win MVP with Dallas finishing in the middle of the West, but his chances of garnering his first MVP would benefit greatly from the Mavericks exceeding expectations this season and finishing closer to the top of their conference.

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers (+700)

Last year's winner, Embiid is looking to defend his crown and capture back-to-back MVP awards this season. As noted above, winning consecutive MVP awards is actually a relatively common occurrence. Should he accomplish it, Embiid would become the 10th to do so since 1986.

While Embiid has only won one MVP award, he has been firmly in the conversation for three years now, finishing no worse than second in voting since the 2020-21 season. Last year he set a career-high in points per game (33.1) and field goal percentage (54.8%) while tying his career-high in assists per game (4.2).

Keeping up with Jokic is a difficult task, but Embiid has been up to the challenge during the regular season for three years in a row now.

Looking ahead to 2023-24, the Philadelphia 76ers have a somewhat uncertain outlook. James Harden has requested a trade, and until that situation is resolved, Embiid can't be certain who he will be sharing the floor with.

As it stands, the 76ers have the fourth-best odds to win the East (+650) and the eighth-best odds to win the NBA Championship (+1700).

Jayson Tatum, F, Boston Celtics (+800)

Entering his seventh season, Jayson Tatum has never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting. That fourth-place finish came last season, an improvement from his sixth-place finish the season before. He is moving in the right direction but still has a bit of a climb to reach the heights of those above him on this list.

In many ways, Tatum's MVP outlook is the opposite of Doncic's. Tatum has enjoyed an extremely positive start to his career at the team level. Since being drafted third overall in 2017, the Boston Celtics have never missed the playoffs, posting a combined record of 296-176 (62.7%).

Tatum has been a part of some extremely talented rosters, and that will be the case again this upcoming season. There are few team-level concerns with Boston as they are the current favorites to win the East (+210) and the NBA title (+470). The downside to playing with talented teammates is that Tatum has lagged behind some other players in terms of individual stats, averaging above 30.0 points in a season for the first time last year.

The good news for Tatum is he is trending in the right direction. His points per game have increased every season since he entered the league. Last season he set career-highs in points per game (30.1), assists per game (4.6), and rebounds per game (8.8). Further improvement this season could see him arrive at the top of the NBA and win his first MVP award.

Kevin Durant, F, Phoenix Suns (+1400)

Kevin Durant is looking to win his second MVP award and first since the 2013-14 season. Since winning MVP, he hasn't come particularly close to winning a second. His highest finish was fifth in 2015-16. Since then he hasn't finished higher than seventh.

His move to the Phoenix Suns creates an interesting dynamic for Durant's MVP outlook. He now shares the court with Devin Booker, who has the eighth-best odds to win MVP this season (+1700) and finished fourth in MVP voting two seasons ago. Durant and Booker are the only teammates inside the top 10 in MVP odds this season. The next closest pair of teammates is Anthony Davis (+2900) and LeBron James (+5000).

In addition to Booker, Durant will also share the court with Bradley Beal. The Suns' roster bodes well for their team-level accomplishments, but it may make it difficult for Durant or Booker to have the kind of individual stats that are required to win MVP.

How the Suns ultimately end up operating this season could change that, and one thing is clear -- there will be no shortage of points scored in Phoenix. The Suns have the second-best odds to win the West (+310) and the fourth-best odds to win the NBA Championship (+650).

Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors (+1400)

Stephen Curry is looking to win his third MVP award after winning it in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Since his last win, Curry has been a fixture in the top 10 in MVP voting, appearing on the list every season except for the 2019-20 campaign when he was injured. His highest finish was third in 2020-21.

Simply put, if Curry is healthy, he has been in contention for the MVP. That said, the difference between a top-10 MVP season and a season with a realistic chance of winning the award is a large one.

Last season, Curry put together one of the better statistical seasons of his career, averaging 29.4 points per game (third-best in his career) and 6.1 rebounds per game (career-high) with a 49.3% field goal percentage (third-best in his career) and still finished ninth in MVP voting.

The Golden State Warriors made some major moves this offseason, trading Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards for Chris Paul and re-signing Draymond Green. They are well-positioned for success on the team level, with the third-best odds to win the West (+600) and the sixth-best odds to win the NBA Championship (+1400).

Unlike Durant, who is sharing the floor with one of the brightest stars in the game in Booker, one issue Curry is not expected to have is competition for the spotlight. Curry has shared the floor with Green and Klay Thompson for years and has still been the center all things Warriors. The addition of Paul could make things easier on Curry, and Steph should remain the heart and soul of Golden State.

Long Shots

  • Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns (+1700)

  • Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers* (+2300)

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder (+2300)

  • Anthony Davis, F/C, Los Angeles Lakers (+2900)

  • Donovan Mitchell, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (+3100)

  • De'Aaron Fox, PG, Sacramento Kings (+4000)

  • Zion Williamson, SF, New Orleans Pelicans (+5000)

  • Jimmy Butler, G/F, Miami Heat (+5000)

  • LeBron James, F, Los Angeles Lakers (+5000)

*Lillard has formally requested a trade from Portland.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.