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NBA MVP odds, predictions: Jayson Tatum favored with Celtics’ hot start

New York Post
New York Post
 2022-12-06

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We’re only seven weeks into this young NBA season, and we’ve already seen multiple players stake their claim as the early MVP favorite. Add Jayson Tatum’s name to that list.

The Celtics star vaulted his way to the top of the odds board at BetMGM this week, dealing as a slim +275 favorite after carrying his team to a stellar 16-2 run since early November. He’s priced just above preseason favorite Luka Doncic and two-time winner Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are tied at +300 after impressive starts of their own.

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Jayson Tatum
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2022-23 NBA MVP betting odds (via BetMGM )
Jayson Tatum+275Luka Doncic+300Giannis Antetokounmpo+300Stephen Curry+800Joel Embiid+1200Devin Booker+2500Anthony Davis+2500Nikola Jokic+2500Ja Morant+3000Kevin Durant+3000Donovan Mitchell+3000Shai Gilgeous-Alexander+5000
Jayson Tatum favored to win 2022-23 NBA MVP

Tatum was our best bet to win this award before the season, when he was dealing as a 12-1 dark horse after leading his team to the NBA Finals. It was an easy case to make: the 24-year-old forward took a major leap forward in 2021-22 and figured to be the best player on the best team in a “vengeance tour” of sorts.

Fast forward seven weeks into the season, and that’s exactly how it’s played out. Tatum is averaging career highs in points (30.8) and rebounds (8.3) while shooting a career-best 48 percent from the floor. He’s doing it on the other end, too: he’s one of just five players averaging at least one block and one steal per game and ranks 16th in defensive win shares (1.1).

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Luka Doncic
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And, crucially, he’s doing it all for the best team in the league – a major reason why oddsmakers have Tatum priced as such a short favorite to win this award. The Celtics own the NBA’s best record (20-5) and net rating (+8.5) through 25 games and are currently on pace for 66 wins, which would all but guarantee a trophy for the rising superstar.

It’s still early, of course, and plenty could change between now and April. It’s not like Tatum’s case is unrivaled, either: he ranks fourth in scoring behind Doncic (33.4 PPG), Antetokounmpo (31.9), and MVP long shot Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31.3), and he ranks outside of the top five by most advanced metrics.

That opens the door, if only slightly, for another sensational scorer to steal this award if their team wins enough games.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo
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Who else is worth betting to win NBA MVP?

The clear choices are the aforementioned Doncic and Antetokounmpo, though they’re hardly worth betting at their current price over Tatum. Stephen Curry (+800) is posting a nearly identical offensive stat line to his unanimous MVP campaign in 2015-16, but his Warriors look like a tough bet to crack 50 wins with the way they’re playing so far.

Instead, keep an eye on Devin Booker (+2500), who finished fourth in MVP voting last year and whose torrid scoring run has helped carry the Suns to the best record in the West. It’s also hard to ignore the ridiculous numbers that Anthony Davis (+2500) is posting on a nightly basis, though the Lakers’ lousy record (10-12) will likely hold him back.

If you’re shooting for the moon, don’t ignore what Gilgeous-Alexander (+5000) has done to this point. We broke down his case in detail a few weeks ago, and he’s continued his elite scoring pace and spectacular two-way play for an otherwise sleepy Thunder squad. Only three MVP winners have come from teams with fewer than 50 wins, but he’s making as compelling of a case as any lottery-bound star.

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