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San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) looks to move the ball past Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77), as we examine the NBA MVP opening odds with early predictions and expert picks.
San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) looks to move the ball past Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center on Feb. 14, 2024. Photo by Jerome Miron / USA TODAY Sports via Imagn.

We're breaking down the NBA MVP opening odds from our best NBA betting sites, along with our early predictions and expert picks, with Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic opening as the betting favorites.

After Nikola Jokic won two straight NBA MVP awards and three of the last four, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see the Denver Nuggets star open as the NBA MVP odds favorite for 2024-25. But it might catch your attention just how close the competition is.

Fresh off his first NBA Finals appearance, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic is dealing as a virtual co-favorite across our best sports betting sites after finishing second in last year's MVP balloting.

They're followed closely by Joel Embiid, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose teams are all dealing among the favorites by the NBA championship odds behind the defending champion Boston Celtics.

With the 2024-25 NBA MVP odds officially released, our NBA experts C Jackson Cowart and Rob Paul debated their first impressions, early predictions, and expert picks among the favorites and long shots.

2024-25 NBA MVP opening odds

(Odds from our best sports betting apps as of Tuesday, June 18)

PlayerDraftKingsFanDuelBetMGMCaesarsbet365
Nikola Jokic+350+380+400 🔥+350+350
Luka Doncic+370 +380+400 🔥+350 ❄️+375
Joel Embiid+550+550+700 🔥+500 ❄️+550
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander+600+550 ❄️+650 +700 🔥+600
Giannis Antetokounmpo+650+550+650+550+600 
Anthony Edwards+1200 +1500+1200+1500+1400 
Jayson Tatum+1600+1900 🔥+1400 ❄️+1800+1600
Jalen Brunson+1600 +2000+2200 🔥+1500 ❄️+1800
Victor Wembanyama+4000   +3500+2000 ❄️+2500+4000
Stephen Curry+5000+5000+4000 +3000 ❄️+5000
Ja Morant+5000+5000+5000+5000+5000
Kevin Durant+6000 ❄️+7500+8000 🔥+7500+6600

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NBA MVP expert picks, early predictions

What stands out to you from the NBA MVP opening odds?

Rob Paul (SBR | Twitter/X)First off, I don't think there are many surprises within the top eight players with the shortest odds. It's brand names on teams that sit near the top of the NBA championship odds. Outside of maybe Jalen Brunson (+2200) - who I think did wonders for the way he’s viewed during the New York Knicks’ playoff run - the top players by the MVP odds are all names most non-NBA watchers have at least heard of or seen on their social media feed one way or another.

Beyond the chalky nature of the odds, which aren’t a surprise by any stretch, I think my biggest takeaway is how close Luka Doncic (+400) is to Nikola Jokic (+400). Jokic is a very slight favorite at two of our best sportsbooks while they have identical odds at three others. Obviously, Doncic was incredible this past season and led the NBA in points per game (33.9), but it was just a bit shocking to see him right there with Jokic, especially after the way the NBA Finals played out.

C Jackson Cowart (SBRTwitter/X): I'm right there with you on my initial reaction to Doncic being essentially the co-favorite across the board. I mean, it makes sense though, right? It's hard to fade the two-time reigning winner, but I'd be tempted to bet whichever of those players has the longer odds given how spectacular Doncic was for really the entire season in 2023-24. So that probably means they should have the same odds.

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I think my biggest surprise is just how concentrated the field is around the favorites. I can't remember such a steep drop-off as what we're seeing between the top eight and the rest. Is that a sign of a talent drain leaguewide as the "old guard" starts applying for AARP benefits, or are the current stars just that good?  

Paul: I don’t believe it’s a talent drop-off around the league, especially when thinking about it in the context of the Celtics' roster that just had one of the most dominant seasons in league history. Look at how valuable a player like Derrick White was to that team, a no-time All-Star, and seeing rookies like Dereck Lively II come out of nowhere and overachieve. I think this is more about us being in a period of freak-show talents infiltrating the league, thanks in part to the increase in European players.

Jokic, Doncic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+650) are three of the best European players we’ve ever seen, and we can even throw Joel Embiid (+700) into that group if we want to count him as French - although he’s from Cameroon and playing for Team USA at the Olympics. The game has gone international, and it doesn’t stop with the Europeans, either, as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700) has Canada viewed as top contender by the Men's Olympic Basketball odds.

The NBA has grown beyond the USA and it's made the league so much more talented and the MVP race so much more concentrated. Oh, there’s also that Victor Wembanyama kid, too.

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Which of the NBA MVP favorites would you target? Who would you fade?

Cowart: I'll start us off with this one, as I tipped my hand earlier. I really think this is Doncic's award to lose. Voter fatigue is a real thing, and while Jokic managed to evade it in 2024, he also built up a tremendous amount of goodwill with that title run in 2023. It feels like the narrative has flipped the other way after these playoffs, and if the regular season had been even a month longer, Doncic had the numbers and the groundswell of support within NBA media to make a real run at it.

Conversely, I wouldn't touch those odds for Embiid with a 65-foot pole. That's how many games he'll have to play in 2024-25 to be eligible for this award, which he's done twice in his 10-year career. The tricky part is that these odds might be the best we see all season, but as a wise horse racing track security guard once told me over a decade ago, "a ripped-up ticket isn't worth anything." (That's a true story, by the way.)

Paul: I think when looking at the top three, Doncic is by far the smartest bet. He still doesn’t turn 26 until February and he’s coming off the most dominant statistical season of his career. If he and Jokic both put up identical numbers to what they did in 2023-24, you’ve got to think Doncic will win MVP this time. You’re right about voter fatigue, and the thought of Jokic winning as many MVPs by the time he’s 30 as LeBron James has in his career is kind of crazy.

Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, but I’m going with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700). He was the runner-up this past season and helped the Oklahoma City Thunder make the jump and earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. If he can lead the league in points and steals per game while helping the Thunder to the top seed in the loaded West again, I like his chances.

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As for who to fade, Embiid is the obvious choice, but I’d put Antetokounmpo there, too. I refuse to trust Doc Rivers, and Giannis has played fewer than 68 games in four of the last five seasons. The player I have the hardest time with is Anthony Edwards (+1500), what do you think of his chances?

Cowart: Man, I stared at his odds for a long time when I first scanned the market. I feel like he can be the future face of the NBA, and I'd also be stunned if that happens next season. The Minnesota Timberwolves nearly won the West last year amid a career year for Edwards, and he finished a distant seventh with six total votes.

He'd probably have to bump his scoring by 8-10 PPG to have a realistic shot, and I just don't see the value at these short odds on that happening. I'd much rather take the better price on Jayson Tatum (+1900), who quietly finished sixth in MVP voting last year, to carry some championship momentum into a statement season after he was snubbed as the Finals MVP odds favorite.

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Is there an NBA MVP long shot that you're buying in the early market?

Paul: By the time the season starts, will Victor Wembanyama (+4000) even be a long shot anymore? This market opened less than 48 hours ago, and we’ve already seen his odds shorten at a few of our best live betting sites. He’s definitely the most fun long shot to back in this market after one of the most dominant (and entertaining) rookie seasons in NBA history.

To put in perspective how much better he got as the season went along: he averaged 18.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 3.1 BPG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.4 3PG over his first 28 games. Over his final 29 games, he put up 22.7 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, 4.2 BPG, 1.4 SPG, and 2.2 3PG. He’s a legitimate contender for Defensive Player of the Year, too, and defense should matter more than it probably does when talking about an MVP.

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My only hang-up is the fact that he doesn’t turn 21 until January. The youngest NBA MVP ever was Derrick Rose at age 22. Do you think voters would hold his age against him, and do you think he’ll be able to put up the numbers to compete with Jokic and Doncic?

Cowart: You read my mind exactly. I feel like Wembanyama is so obviously the call here that, fittingly, everyone else agrees. In the course of writing this, his odds dropped from +5000 to +4000 at DraftKings, and he's dealing as short as +2000 at BetMGM. Clearly, we aren't the only ones intrigued by the French wunderkind.

To me, his age isn't really a factor in the minds of voters because he's such a transcendent star who doesn't really fit into any mold we've ever seen. As for his production: would anything surprise you? As you put so well, he transformed before our eyes as a rookie, and I wouldn't put anything past him next season. I'm actively betting on him as we speak.

Also, I have a confession to make: I can't quit on Kawhi Leonard (+15000). I know he can't stay healthy, but unlike Embiid, he's priced like an afterthought despite three prior top-five finishes and a second-team All-NBA nod in 2023-24. He's clearly one of the best players on the planet at full strength, and while we may never see that again, I think there's better than a 0.66% chance as these odds imply, especially if Paul George skips town and leaves Leonard as the clear face of the franchise.

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How to read NBA MVP odds

Reading NBA MVP odds involves understanding the implied probability and potential payouts associated with each player's odds of winning the MVP award. NBA MVP odds are typically presented in American odds. These use plus and minus symbols to indicate underdogs and favorites, respectively. For instance, if a player's odds are +500, a $100 bet would result in a $500 profit if the player wins, while odds of -200 would mean that a $200 bet is required to win $100 in profit.

When reading NBA MVP odds, lower odds indicate that a player has a higher probability of winning the award, while higher odds suggest that a player is considered less likely to win. Bettors should consider factors such as a player's performance, team success, and narrative appeal when evaluating MVP odds.

It's also important to compare odds across different sportsbooks to identify the best value bets. Additionally, bettors should keep in mind that MVP odds can fluctuate throughout the season based on player performance, injuries, and other factors, so staying informed and monitoring odds changes can be crucial for making informed betting decisions.

Past NBA MVP winners

YearNameTeamPreseason odds
2023-24Nikola JokicDenver Nuggets+450
2022-23Joel EmbiidPhiladelphia 76ers+600
2021-22Nikola JokicDenver Nuggets+1600
2020-21Nikola JokicDenver Nuggets+2500
2019-20Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks+210
2018-19Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks+475
2017-18James HardenHouston Rockets+1100

NBA MVP FAQs

Who is the NBA MVP favorite?

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic opened as the betting favorite to repeat as MVP with odds as short as +350. Those odds imply a 22.22% probability that he'll win his fourth MVP in five seasons.

Who won the NBA MVP last year?

Nikola Jokic secured his third NBA MVP trophy in four seasons in 2023-24, ranking in the top 10 in points (26.4), rebounds (12.4), and assists (9.0) to run away with the award. 

When will the NBA MVP be decided?

With the 2023-24 award announced on Wednesday, May 8, during the NBA playoffs, we can expect next year's award to be decided at a similar time.

What is the NBA MVP trophy called?

The NBA MVP trophy was renamed as the Michael Jordan Trophy. It's awarded annually to the NBA's most valuable player.

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