The NBA season is long and grueling – 82 regular season games in courts across the land, with men running up and down a wooden floor for 48 minutes a game, off and on for six months.
From that regular season grind emerges the greatest basketball players in the world — and one of them will get the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Note that voting for the award is done after the regular season, but before the playoffs begin.
The NBA MVP award is arguably the most hotly contested MVP award of all the major US pro leagues, because there are usually a bevy of great players having great seasons and it’s hard to choose only one of them for the award. When you look at the No. 1 player for the top 10 teams, there often are great cases to be made for several of them to be named the MVP.
How Is NBA MVP Voting Done?
Voting is done by a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters around the world and one fan vote not associated with the NBA.
Voters choose five players in order of their ranking:
- First choice gives a player 10 points
- Second choice is 7
- Third choice is 5
- Fourth is 3
- Fifth is 1
The MVP is the player with the most points when all ballots are added up.
2023-24 NBA MVP Race Analysis
The 2023-24 NBA season is less than a month old, but it’s fairly easy to figure out who the top candidates will be. The one thing about NBA stars, unlike most other sports, is that they are fairly consistent in their greatness. It’s rare to see a guy like Stephen Curry or Nikola Jokic or LeBron James go on an extended slump that could take them out of the running. They usually snap back into form fairly quickly – unless they are hampered by an injury – and if their teams are doing well, they will be in the MVP conversation.
You aren’t going to have an MVP come out of nowhere. The NBA isn’t like that.
In fact, seeing repeat MVP winners is a fairly common occurrence in the NBA. In the 68 years that the MVP has been awarded (1956-2023), 14 of them have been repeats and several players have won two or more. So, win it once and you’ve got a decent chance to win it again.
The award has trended toward the big man in the past few years – 76ers center Joel Embiid, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (twice) and Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (twice) have won it over the past five years.
Current NBA MVP Favorites and Odds
These are the favorites to win the 2023-24 NBA MVP award, according to odds from Tipico Sportsbook:
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) +225
The two-time MVP winner is considered by most to be the most dangerous player in the NBA. The 6-11, 280-plus-pound Serbian star can score from anywhere on the court, is nearly impossible to defend close to the basket and usually requires a double- or triple-team just to keep him under 30 points a game.
So far this season, “Joker” is averaging 29.8 points per game, 13.7 rebounds per game, and 8.3 assists per game. Last season, he failed to win his third straight MVP but led the Nuggets to the franchise’s first NBA title.
And the craziest thing is, Jokic was a second-round draft pick in 2014 – a total steal by NBA standards.
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) +410
The Slovenian is huge for a point guard – 6-7, 230 – and he won’t win a lot of foot races, but he doesn’t need speed. The No. 3 overall pick in 2018 uses his size and moves to create a ton of space and keep his defender at bay, and his stepback jumper is impossible to defend.
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) +700
The Cameroon-born 7-footer won the MVP last season with averages of 33.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 1.7 blocks per game. He’s off to another great start this season – 32.4 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 5.7 apg, and 2.1 bpg. The main issue for Embiid is health – he’s never played 70 games in a season since starting in the Association in 2016.
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) +720
Arguably the most talented player in the Eastern Conference, the small forward has the complete offensive toolkit, with a great outside shot, smooth moves to the basket and a complete offensive game akin to veteran superstar Kevin Durant.
For his career, Tatum has averaged 22.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg and a 37.6 shooting percentage on three-point attempts. So far this season, JT is hitting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc and is averaging 22.6 ppg.
Tatum has led the Celtics to a top four seed in the Eastern Conference in five of his six seasons in the league.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) +1100
The two-time MVP winner (2015, 2016) is the all-time leader in three-point baskets and is an old man (35) by NBA standards. But with an insane physical fitness regimen and work ethic that is second to none, “The Chef” hasn’t shown any signs of yielding to Father Time.
So far this season, Curry is averaging over 30 ppg, nearly 4 apg and even 4.6 rpg for one of the smaller stars in the NBA. He’s also hitting 44.6 of his three-point attempts. Aside from the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season, Curry has averaged more than 25 ppg since 2015 and has led the Warriors to four NBA titles.
Giannis Antetotounkmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) +1100
The “Greek Freak” is also a repeat MVP winner (2019, 2020) and he’s still only 28. Thus far this season, he’s averaging 28.9 ppg and 9.4 rpg, and he’s also one of the best in-the-paint defenders in the NBA. With his agility, size and strength, Giannis can be nearly impossible to stop.
NBA MVP Winners Throughout History
For the first three decades of the NBA MVP award, the honors pretty much always went to either a center or power forward. From 1956-1983 only three smaller players won it – Celtics guard Bob Cousy, Bucks shooting guard Oscar Robertson and 76ers small forward Julius Erving.
During that time, Wilt Chamberlain won it four times, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar six, Bill Russell five and Moses Malone three. They were the premier big men of their eras.
As the NBA became less reliant on big men scoring underneath and more reliant on outside shooting, transition offense and drives to the basket, more guards and shooters have won the award.
Celtics’ small forward Larry Bird, with his great outside shooting and deft passing, won three straight MVPs. The Lakers’ Magic Johnson, who was a point guard but was big enough to operate under the basket, won three MVPs. Bulls guard Michael Jordan, considered “the GOAT” by many, did it all – incredible gravity-defying moves, hanging jump shots, amazing defense and the most clutch star of all time. MJ won the MVP four times.
And of course, the greatest hybrid player of all time – LeBron James – has won the MVP award four times.
In the past 10 years, every position on the court – center, power forward, small forward, shooting guard and point guard – has won the MVP award.
Bet on NBA MVP Futures with Tipico!
Who’s your pick for the NBA MVP this season? You can place a bet now, or next month or any time in the season! Maybe you’ll spot a player having a great season and leading his team into the NBA title conversation.
There are some guys who are amazing players but on whom the spotlight isn’t as bright as Jokic, Doncic, Embiid, Giannis or Curry. How about Devin Booker, a highly effective scorer for the Phoenix Suns? Or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who unfortunately for him operates in the relative obscurity of Oklahoma City. Or Donovan Mitchell, who with his Cavaliers could surprise again this season.
If you’re in Ohio, New Jersey, Colorado or Iowa, join us and put some money where your NBA MVP Award predictions are here! You might just score your own slam dunk!
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