Nikola Jokic is in the running for an NBA MVP three-peat, but he has several challengers on the odds board for the award as we approach the halfway mark of the 2022-23 NBA season.
One of the names that’s climbing in the odds is Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. This comes as the Nets have soared up the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a 10-game winning streak.
Brooklyn now sits two games behind Boston for first place in the East and lead a bunched-up pack of Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Philadelphia, all of which are no more than two games behind the Nets.
Durant and Irving Leading the Way for the Nets
Not only have the Nets won 10 in a row, but prior to a 103-92 loss to Boston, Brooklyn had also won four games prior to that. This hot streak lines up with the return of Kyrie Irving from an off-the-court suspension. Durant is seventh in the NBA with a 29.9 points-per-game scoring average. In his most-recent game Wednesday night, Durant scored 26 points, grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, and had eight assists in a 108-107 win at Atlanta to keep the winning streak going.
Even during the Nets’ early-season struggles, Durant has been a consistent leader. He’s scored under 20 points just three times all season. Durant credits head coach Jacque Vaughn for also leading the turnaround after he took over for Steve Nash in early November.
“When you follow the game plan and it works, you start believing more and more,” Durant said. “I felt like we didn’t have an identity to start the season, and then we started to figure it out these last few weeks, this last month or so… We walk into every game believing ‘All right, if we stick to this template, this structure that we have, we’ll be fine regardless of what goes on in the game’… just knowing what we want to do every time we step on the floor keeps our mind at ease, and we’ll have that belief in whatever Jacque tells us.”
Tatum and Giannis Among Jokic’s NBA MVP Odds Challengers
Jokic, the two-time defending MVP, is just 19th in scoring at 25.7 PPG, but he is also eighth in rebounds (10.8 RPG) and third in assists (9.4 APG), making him an all-around threat for a Nuggets team that’s tied for the lead in the Western Conference. He’s been even better in his last 10 games, averaging a triple-double in that span with 31.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG, and 10.5 APG.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum helped the Celtics get off to a hot start in the East. While Boston has cooled a bit, Tatum still is fifth in scoring with 31.1 points per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is at 31.7 PPG and also bringing in 11.6 rebounds per game in another excellent season for the Milwaukee star. Rounding out the Eastern Conference stars, Joel Embiid leads the NBA with 33.7 points per game and is also pulling down 9.7 rebounds per contest.
In the Western Conference, Luka Doncic is putting up a season that’s rivaling Jokic. Even though Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks sit in seventh place in the West, they are just 3.5 games behind Denver and New Orleans, so it’s too early to figure a team’s overall performance into the MVP mix.
Durant Has Good Value in MVP Odds
Durant got off to a bit of a slow start in the NBA MVP race, so he’s still working his way up the odds board. That gives him good value among the contenders.
It will take a big run for Durant to get into the conversation, but to start December, Durant was around +2400. You can see that he has gained tremendous ground in just one month. If he keeps up this standard of play, he will continue to see his NBA MVP odds improve.
If Durant is going to have a realistic shot at the award, he will just have to get better from here. That means now is the time to bet on the Nets superstar at NY sportsbooks while the odds are favorable.