Few things in sports are as guaranteed as people arguing over NBA player awards. Whether it’s the 2010 MVP debate between LeBron James and Derrick Rose or any year Michael Jordan didn’t win it, teams and members of the media are always very opinionated about who brings home the hardware. .
However, the legalization of sports betting has changed the way we view these prizes and potentially the way voters vote for the prizes. As of Sunday, the last day of the NBA regular season, sportsbooks are still accepting bets on these prizes and have odds on the winners.
NBA player awards are usually announced sometime in June, but according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, members of the media must submit their ballots by April 11, the day after the regular season ends. In total there are just over 100 voters for the NBA player awards.
With some of the most open awards in recent memory, I had to argue with Julian Edlow, NBA Analyst for DraftKings to see where sportsbooks stand on these awards, from sportsbook liability to different narratives fueling voter opinions, and everything in between. The June award ceremonies will bring a lot of heat to see who has won the trophies.
NBA Prize Odds and Liability
2022 NBA Most Valuable Player: Nikola Jokic (likely winner)
|Draft Kings sports betting||BetMGM bookmaker|
|Nicholas Jokic (now -380) — 14% of tickets | 41% mango||Joel Embid (now +275) — 18.2% of entries | 29.3% mango|
|Joel Embid (now +265) — 19% of tickets | 20% mango||Nicholas Jokic (now -275) — 16.1% of entries | 24.5% mango|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (now +800) – 9% of tickets | 8% mango||Stephen Curry (now +50,000) — 11.9% of admissions | 11% mango|
|Stephen Curry (now +60,000) — 18% of admissions | 8% mango||Giannis Antetokounmpo (now +850) – 11.6% of tickets | 11% mango|
|DeMar DeRozan (now +50,000) — 13% of innings | 7% mango||Devin Booker (now +8,000) — 10.9% of tickets | 5.4% mango|
|Ja Morant (now +50000) — 7% of tickets | 3% mango||Ja Morant (now +25000) — 8% of tickets | 4.9% mango|
|Kevin Durant (now +50,000) — 3% of tickets | 2% mango||DeMar DeRozan — 7.3% of the tickets | 3.8% mango|
|Devin Booker (now +7500) — 3% of tickets | 1% mango||LeBron James — 3.1% of tickets | 1.8% mango|
|LeBron James (now +100,000) — 3% of tickets | 1% mango||Kevin Durant — 3.1% of tickets | 3.9% mango|
Just two weeks ago, Embiid was the consensus favorite to win the award. Since then, he’s become a sizeable underdog, leading many to wonder what happened.
Well, Julian Edlow of DraftKings had a lot to say about that.
“The Harden trade actually hurt Embiid,” he said. “They have been losing big games and watched the Celtics jump up the division. [Embiid is] still impressive and in convo, but those losses and dominance with Harden don’t hold up, same team as before.”
Then there’s the Tim Bontemps story, in which Edlow says, “Blew [the voting] opened.”
Most sportsbooks across the country moved Jokic from +160 to -135 in one day. The last time Bontemps did this poll, Embiid was ahead of the field.
However, it would appear that Jokic’s ability to lead the Nuggets to the playoffs has done enough to sway voters. DraftKings are likely to lose big if Jokic does indeed win the prize.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Smart?
Rarely do we have a prize that is almost a complete guess heading into the playoffs. That’s what we have with Defensive Player of the Year. Edlow said of the race, “Nobody really broke away from the pack.”
Less than a month ago, Marcus Smart was +2000. He now he is the favorite.
“Giving it to Marcus Smart would really be about rewarding the Celtics for his career,” Edlow said. “It’s like old school ‘give it to the best player on the best team.’ If Marcus Smart gets it, it’s because he’s the best defender on the best defensive team.”
With no revolutionary candidate really here and members of the Celtics media like Mark D’Amico and Sean Grande driving the Marcus Smart DPOY narrative, it looks like he’s the real favorite.
Also, Bam Adebayo would probably win the award, but most question the number of games he has played (only 57 of 82). He was the favorite to win the award for most of the season, though Edlow thinks Adebayo is all but set to win it despite having the second-best odds and best record in the Eastern Conference.
Mikal Bridges is the biggest responsibility at BetMGM and it would be a huge loss for them if he were to accept him.
“Bridges is the best defensive player on the best overall team in the NBA,” Edlow said. “He would be my choice if Smart doesn’t take him.”
On Antetokounmpo, Edlow said, “Giannis Antetokounmpo could win it every year, especially with that incredible game-winning block on Embiid a few weeks ago.” Voter fatigue between him and Rudy Gobert is likely to set them apart from the winners of this award.
The best guess here is Marcus Smart, but it may really depend on how voters feel when they cast their ballots.
Rookie of the Year: Evan Mobley
How important is recency bias? At one point, Evan Mobley was a -1000 favorite to win Rookie of the Year and was being compared to past greats like Tim Duncan. Unfortunately, he missed parts of the season finale while Scottie Barnes came on strong for Toronto.
Now Mobley is -225 and Barnes is +155, Cade Cunningham is a distant +1000. Some points from Edlow about this award:
- Mobley had the best year but missed some time late. recency bias could be involved. I’ll probably take it.
- Barnes may end up with a better team. The best bet on the board. Putting numbers. But if you’re redrafting, he’s clearly third.
- Cunningham had a chance when Mobley went down with his big game against the Sixers. The team sat him out in multiple games in an attempt to tank. The team still won those games and ended Cunningham’s chances.
Coach of the Year: Monty Williams
It should be almost unanimous, close vote around -1500.
Most Improved Player: Ja Morant
Garland made it fun late, but Morant jumped a level or two this year. He shouldn’t be too close. Voting closed at -1000.
Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro
A landslide victory here for Herro. Vote closed at -10000