Published at 02:58, December 13, 2022 

Updated December 13, 2022 at 02:58h

This morning, the NBA was mentioned. That name is Michael Jordan.
The six-time winner of the Most Valuable Player award will now have his name on the NBA’s most prestigious individual honor, an award that is probably the most closely contested of this strange 2022-23 season.
It is strange for several reasons. One of these being that the Golden State Warriors are currently 2-11 on the road and will face one of three cofavorites tonight in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokoumnpo is listed at +300, along with Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, with slight variations depending upon which sportsbook you check. No one else has odds in the single digits. However, that does not necessarily mean there is no three-man race.
In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that Anthony Davis is going to make it a four-man race if the Los Angles Lakers — also appearing on national television tonight against Boston in a terrific TNT doubleheader — continue their dramatic turnaround following a 2-10 start.
Davis had odds as high as +25000 before going for 44 and 55 points in back-to-back games to begin this month, and he is now down to +3500 at FanDuel — the same odds as Zion Williamson of the West-leading New Orleans Pelicans and Kevin Durant of the resurgent Brooklyn Nets.

Victor Solomon designed six new trophies to honor the Kia Performance Award winners, including five new awards for NBA legends Wilt Chamberlain and John Havlicek.
— NBA (@NBA) December 13, 2022

Anyone thinking that these men are longshots should remember one fact: Nikola Jokic received this award last year for the team which finished sixth in the West.
Yes, sixth.
It is best to not debate whether he was deserving of the award at the Embiid dinner table. However, he won and awarded those who gambled that he would become a repeated winner.
Which season is this? This race may be more open than many would like you to believe.

So awesome that Zion Williamson gets to win the first ever Michael Jordan MVP trophy
— Sad NOLA Fan Account (@kenlorio) December 13, 2022

Sad NOLA fan? You may have a point, however.
What do The Odds Really Represent?
They are the result of those lines being drawn. As we approach the officially start of season: the Christmas Day quintupleheader when casual viewers start to pay more attention, they represent the fact the people who put the lines view these three guys as most likely winners.
These figures do not capture the mentality of the average voter. They aren’t even considering their ballots because the season just started. It is important to stress this. This information comes from an experienced sportswriter, who has covered the league over many decades. He also served as an official voter in recent years.
There have been very few exceptions to this rule from one season to the next. Nobody decides on April. Steph Curry was the unanimous choice in 2016, which marked an exception. Another was 2000, when all but one voter selected Shaquille O’Neal.)
Journalists and broadcasters covering the NBA regularly understand one truth better than average fans: the 82-game season is hard work. In the past few years, 20 teams have qualified for the playoffs. This has resulted in a lot of load management (a.k.a. Eight Brooklyn Nets players received rest nights in Indianapolis from Jacque Vaughn last Saturday night. None of the five starters from the previous night’s victory was even in uniform.
In the old days, this would have been an excellent way to get David Stern to punish your franchise publicly. David, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant and Paul Silas are upstairs, so the rules have been relaxed under Adam Silver. He hasn’t met a story that he doesn’t love. But hey, when Tankathon is one of the most popular hoops Web sites and Victor Wembanyana is a trending topic every week … you get the picture.

One year ago today, We lost an NBA Legend, Former NBA Commissioner David Stern❗️We still miss you Mr.Stern and you will forever be in our hearts and We will never forget your voice, especially on Draft Night as well🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 R.I.P. David Stern @NBA #NBA
— BYRDIE SPORTS (@ByrdieSports) January 1, 2021

Anyway, onto the race …
Which Warts Are There on the Top Three?
Tatum is a terrific player on a terrific Boston Celtics team with the NBA’s best record, second-best point differential, and a two-game losing streak after dropping games against the Warriors (by 16) and the Clippers (by 20) on stops four and five of a six-game road trip that concludes tonight. Jayson Tatum is their leading scorer, but he has not been in the top five games. Jaylen is Jaylen, who averages 26.8 ppg and shoots 50.1 percent. Tatum’s average is 30.0 points per games and 47.2 shots. Their dynamic team is a great example of how dynamic teams can be. In the NBA, it’s rare for one player to surpass the other so much that they are awarded MVP.
Dončić is leading the league with a 33.1 scoring average and six triple-doubles, but his team is 14-13, including 3-9 on the road. And it says here that being on a .500 team ain’t gonna get it done. LeBron James scored 30.3 points last season for the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing 11th in West. He didn’t get any MVP votes. Dončić may be the best individual statistical performer in the entire NBA and the toughest perimeter cover on a night-to-night basis. But the operative word in Most Valuable Player is “value.” And value is ultimately measured in wins and losses, unless you have a case like Jokic’s last year when he carried a team missing its second- and third-best players.
Antetokounmpo can be a joy to see, and is one of very few players you have to meet in person to appreciate just how powerful and fast he really is. However, he’s back to fighting the free throw demons after he thought he had mastered that skill. A few more misses in big games, and another ladder toss, and he ain’t looking like the most appealing candidate. At 31.1 points per game, he is shooting 62.7% at the line. Shai Gilgeous Alexander averages one-tenth more points than his opponent and makes 93.3% of all of his freebies.

Giannis fell down a ladder after Bucks’ loss and was then HEATED😳
(via @dem389)
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 19, 2022

Okay, so who are the best-priced outsiders?
Let us start by saying that we aren’t trying to discredit the players mentioned above. But they have warts, and warts matter when voters ask themselves: “Who led his team to a place nobody thought they would reach?”
The New Orleans Pelicans currently lead the Western Conference. They have a winning streak of seven games and a half-game advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies who managed six straight wins. This is not a team that has been considered a contender for the championship. DraftKings currently has the Pels listed at +2000, while the Grizzlies are at +1600. There is some thought that the Pels and Grizzlies could be the favorite of the month. This would mirror the way Jazz and the Cavs were before their fall back to Earth.
Williamson averaged 30.0 points during his winning streak and has only shot below half-court in 18 of his games. After missing the last season due to a broken foot injury, Williamson is back and has shown incredible talent at times.

Zion Williamson you are the NBA’s 2022-23 Most Valuable Player
— CLIPSET🔥✂️ (@PrimeLAC_) December 12, 2022

“Nobody in the NBA can guard Zion Williamson 1-on-1. It really takes a 5-man effort.”
– Nuggets HC Michael Malone
— Jake Hardee (@pelicansbyjake) December 5, 2022

His +3500 bet is very attractive.
Who Are You in The Second Tier of the Tier?
FanDuel has nine players with lower odds than Williamson, Durant and Davis.
Steph Curry is at +1000 in the second tier. He’s averaging 30.0 points per contest, a split of 50-40-90 on his shooting percentages and has 22 more 3s than any other player in this league. It would have been great to watch him when his team was in New Orleans two times. He also had loads management nights. We were fortunate to not be among those who purchased tickets for the Big Easy games. The road record is a black eye, as is their current ninth place standing in the West — tied with Dallas.
Joel Embiid has a +200 rating and is the only NBA player who has multiple 50-point games. However, his team is currently 14-12 and is very close to the.500 safety zone which could cause you to be removed from the game if it continues this season. However, that could change. Let’s not forget that the Celtics went to the NBA Finals last year despite being 23-24 on Jan. 21.

JOEL EMBIID joined AI & WILT as the only players in franchise history with multiple 50-PT games in the same season!
53 PTS and 12 REB (63 % FG).
59 PTS and 11 REB. 8 AST and 7 BLK. 68% FG.
— (@Ballislife) December 12, 2022

Devin Booker’s +2700 is for the Phoenix Suns team, which was at the top of West after losing five out six. He is currently dealing with a hamstring strain. Yes, he was carrying Phoenix while Chris Paul was hurt, but that was a temporary thing — unlike the Jamal Murray/Michael Porter Jr. thing in Denver last season that benefitted Jokic.
Jokic would also be at +2700. He could become the first NBA player in three years to win MVP, since Larry Bird back in the mid-1980s. To finish at the top of the West, Nuggets have a record 16-10 record and they are currently +360. Jokic’s scoring and rebounding numbers are down significantly from last season.
Ja Morant is +3000, and this seems too low, but is a testament to Memphis’ record and could be a sneaky nice pick if Morant starts dropping 40-point games. Jaren Jackson Jr. quickly puts pressure on Brook Lopez as Defensive player of the year, something that is not often discussed by the Grizzlies. Morant, who has Desmond Bane currently out, is now carrying this team. He may be looking for another month. Morant’s stats do not match up with others in his price range.
Donovan Mitchell from the Cavs is at +3000. They are still 2-0 against Boston but have lost more since then 8-1. While Brooklyn is still ahead in the standings it’s a long season for Cleveland. He’s a franchise superstar and appears to have been priced just right.
Finally, Gilgeous Alexander is at +10000. You will regret not buying a ticket on him at this price if OKC pulls off a Lakeresque turnaround.

Shai better be top 3 for mvp
— Vaughn Pyle (@raypyle_21) December 13, 2022


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