2022-23 NBA betting preview: Can Joel Embiid finally win MVP?

Joel Embiid enters the 2022-23 NBA season with the third-best odds to win MVP behind Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2022-23 season is quickly approaching and our betting experts have got you covered. Over the next two weeks we are taking a look at how to approach some of the top teams in league and giving out some futures best bets before the season tips off.

Sports Betting Insider Doug Kezirian gives his tips on favorites and longshots to bet for this season's MVP award.

All odds from Caesars Sportsbook

NBA betting preview schedule

Thursday: The case for the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors
Friday: The case for the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks
Monday: The case for the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers
Tuesday: Who to bet for MVP
Wednesday: Betting win totals and awards
Oct. 17: Social media and betting
Oct. 18: NBA title odds and favorites

Is this is the year Joel Embiid breaks through and finally hoists the NBA MVP award?

Due to team success playing such a vital role with the voters, I typically like to wait until the season begins before I get heavily involved in the MVP race. I often build a portfolio of a few guys and try to ensure a solid payout. Of course that also entails tracking injuries and reading the tea leaves, particularly after the All-Star break.

However, the one bet I have made is on Embiid, who is currently +700 at Caesars Sportsbook. Narratives play a large role and the Sixers big man has finished as the runner-up in back-to-back seasons. While James Harden is talented and can put up great numbers, Embiid will ultimately get credit for any success the team has. The Sixers are expected to contend again for a top seed this year.


Luka Doncic is the betting favorite (+390) and while he is certainly talented enough to win the award, history suggests it would be a surprise outcome.

In 23 of the last 25 seasons, the MVP has led a team that finished with a one- or two-seed in its conference. The two outliers were Nikola Jokic last year and Russell Westbrook in the 2016-17 season, when both starred for teams that finished with a Western Conference six-seed.

Both were unusual circumstances. Westbrook averaged a triple-double and broke Oscar Robertson's all-time mark for triple-doubles in a single season. Last year, Jokic posted incredible statistics but he was a bit of a longshot entering the last few months until injuries to other contenders opened the door.

As for this season, the Mavericks are the seventh favorite in the Western Conference alone. However, in terms of regular season win totals, there is not a huge amount of separation. Dallas is positioned with 48.5 wins, while the league's highest is the Boston Celtics with 53.5.

The main reason I prefer waiting to wager on the MVP race is that I need to assess the league's dynamics. Some players look more fit than others and certain teams seemingly take the regular season more seriously.

With all that being said, I am grabbing Embiid. I do not feel his odds will get any longer and I expect Philadelphia to have a strong season from the start. I prefer Embiid over Giannis Antetokounmpo (+550), Jayson Tatum (10-1), Kevin Durant (10-1), Jokic (12-1) and Ja Morant (14-1).


The other angle I typically take prior to the season is focused on longshots. Any guy with solid early momentum will see his odds shrink drastically and a few candidates come to mind. I could not blame anyone for backing Devin Booker (55-1), Anthony Edwards (60-1) or Rudy Gobert (100-1). I understand they are longshots for a reason but I believe the pricing is off.

The rationale for Booker is obvious. The Phoenix Suns are coming off a year where they finished with the league's best record and while Chris Paul played a pivotal role, Booker is their best player. If he evolves his game even further, being the best player on the top overall seed is a huge plus for an MVP candidate's campaign.

Edwards and Gobert are connected because they are now teammates in Minnesota. Their season win total of 49.5 suggests that oddsmakers are expecting a big leap, and I agree with that.

Edwards seems on the verge of an explosive season. He averaged 25.5 PPG on 40% shooting from beyond the arc in last year's playoffs. Many future All-Stars take a giant step in their third season and perhaps the same comes true for the former No. 1 pick. The question is whether Minnesota has the goods to compete for a top seed and Edwards can blossom into a true MVP. Usually a candidate out of nowhere is dismissed, like DeMar DeRozan last year but at 60-1, I could understand the argument.

However, I'd rather grab a piece of Gobert at 100-1. Of course he's highly unlikely to win it but if Minnesota does reach its ceiling, Gobert would receive a lot of credit. The three-time defensive player of the year dominates that end of the court and he could literally change Minnesota's entire team defense. Also, he was known mostly as a screener in Utah, but perhaps he thrives in a new system where he can score enough points to have MVP consideration. He can finish at the rim and a point guard like D'Angelo Russell may be exactly what he needs to have decent scoring numbers.