Who could dethrone Nikola Jokic as the league’s MVP? Is Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero’s to lose? Boardroom breaks down the NBA player awards odds heading into the 2022-23 season.
The 2022-23 NBA regular season tipped off Tuesday night with an exciting doubleheader on TNT. First, the Boston Celtics reminded the Philadelphia 76ers why they won the Eastern Conference last year in a 126-117 win that didn’t seem nearly that close. The defending-champion Golden State Warriors then followed suit by showing the Los Angeles Lakers they’re not going anywhere either with a 123-109 victory in the Bay.
The second day of the campaign will bring a dozen more games, including the debuts of a handful of rookies and some new faces in new places.
Boardroom has already taken stock of the season’s team futures odds, which include both the Warriors and the Celtics among the top-five teams with the best chances to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2023. But which players are set to take home this season’s top individual awards heading into Wednesday night’s slate? Let’s dive in.
NBA Most Valuable Player 2022-23
Luka Dončić (Mavericks): +500
Joel Embiid (76ers): +650
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): +800
Jayson Tatum (Celtics): +850
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets): +1000
Denver’s Nikola Jokic is the reigning back-to-back MVP winner. Unless he puts up an otherworldly statistical season (which he’s kind of done the last two years), he likely won’t make that three in a row, simply due to voter fatigue. The player who stands to benefit the most from that is Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who has finished as the runner-up to his fellow center both times.
When it comes to being the “most valuable player,” Embiid certainly has a case. The 76ers just aren’t nearly as good of a team when he’s not on the floor. If he can stay healthy — he played in career-high 68 games last season — while putting up his typical numbers, Embiid will be right there when the voting takes place.
But don’t sleep on Luka Dončić, who has enjoyed a swift ascension to superstardom. Playing in just his fifth NBA season, Dončić is already recognized by many as a top-five player in the league. He’s been a walking triple-double since his age-20 season, and if he can average a similar stat line while leading the Mavericks to a top seed in the Western Conference as the likely lone All-Star on his team, it would be hard to deny the Slovenian his first MVP.
Of course, you can never count out the remaining names on the list above — Giannis and Tatum. Both are elite (which is like saying water is wet) and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if either had an MVP-level season, especially if one was to lead their respective squad to a top seed in the East. Heading into Tuesday night’s contest, Tatum wasn’t listed in the top-five candidates for the MVP award. But after putting up 35 points and getting the W, his stock rose overnight.
NBA Rookie of the Year 2022-23
Paolo Banchero (Magic): +200
Keegan Murray (Kings): +460
Jaden Ivey (Pistons): +460
Bennedict Mathurin (Pacers): +650
Jabari Smith (Rockets): +700
As the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, it’s not surprising to see Paolo Banchero at the top of this list. In his lone season at Duke, he showcased the ability to handle the ball while boasting elite footwork and movement. All of this in essentially the body of a center. His shot is somewhat of a question mark, but his playmaking ability more than makes up for it.
Tied with the second-best odds are Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and Detroit’s Jaden Ivey. This isn’t all that surprising either considering they went No. 4 and No. 5 in the draft, respectively.
In Murray, the Kings have a 6-foot-8 forward who simply knows how to shoot. This was clear after he shot 40% from the 3-point line en route to NBA Summer League MVP honors. Combine that with ideal NBA wing size and it’s no wonder all the advanced metrics loved him coming out of Iowa. Ivey, on the other hand, is as electric as they come. His burst, speed, and athleticism are akin to a young Russell Westbrook. And his rapid improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons at Purdue has some believing he can maintain a similar trajectory from here.
The Pacers chose Bennedict Mathurin next, so it makes sense that he’d be next in line in the ROY odds. The Pac-12 Player of the Year at Arizona, Mathurin’s bag can compete with anyone in his draft class. When it comes to pure hooping, Mathurin knows how to get it done. He’s not the best shooter, but he knows how to put the ball in the basket. He’s already begun showcasing his scoring ability by leading all NBA rookies in total points in the preseason.
Mathurin would have led the points per game category as well if it wasn’t for Houston’s Jabari Smith, who scored 21 in his lone preseason appearance. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 draft was long considered an option at No. 1 for the Magic before they decided to go with Banchero. After the Thunder drafted the now-injured Chet Holmgren at No. 2, the Rockets quickly jumped at Smith. The SEC Freshman of the Year is 6-11 and has the shooting touch to step outside and knock down the 3, making him an ideal complement to Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. in Houston.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year 2022-23
Rudy Gobert (Timberwolves): +400
Bam Adebayo (Heat): +700
Robert Williams (Celtics): +800
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): +1000
Draymond Green (Warriors): +1400
The only question here is if Rudy Gobert can carry over his defensive prowess to Minnesota and add a fourth DPOY trophy to his collection. Known as the anchor of Utah’s defense for the entirety of his career, the Timberwolves went all-in on the three-time winner of the award by sending four first-round picks, a pick swap, and a slew of players to Utah in exchange for Gobert. His skills can translate to any team or play style, so it’s no surprise to see him top the list for another year.
Similar to Jokic and the MVP award, however, voters may not want to vote for Gobert as the winner for the fourth time in the last six years, which could leave the door open to any of the four remaining names on the list above. Curiously, last year’s winner, Boston’s Marcus Smart, boasts just the ninth-best odds to claim another DPOY trophy at +2400.
NBA Most Improved Player 2022-23
Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves): +850
Tyrese Maxey (76ers): +1200
RJ Barrett (Knicks): +1600
Zion Williamson (Pelicans): +1800
Jalen Brunson (Knicks): +2400
NBA Sixth Man of the Year 2022-23
Jordan Poole (Warriors): +450
Malcolm Brogdon (Celtics): +900
Christian Wood (Mavericks): +1000
Tyler Herro (Heat): +1400
Bones Hyland (Nuggets): +2100
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