NBA Odds: Joel Embiid boosts MVP odds after historic 70-point performance

Jordan Ramsay | Updated Jan 23, 2024

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid is beginning to pull away from Nikola Jokic in the MVP race after he set a new Philadelphia 76ers franchise record with 70 points in a game.

How do you go from being a co-favourite to win MVP to the lone favourite in a single game? If you’re Philadelphia 76ers star and reigning MVP Joel Embiid, you drop a franchise-record 70 points and add a career-best 18 boards and five assists.

Embiid was a +200 co-favourite, along with Denver’s Nikola Jokic, to win MVP before Monday’s 133-123 win over San Antonio. He entered Tuesday as the lone MVP favourite at +120, while Jokic fell to +300.

Let’s take a look at the current top contenders for NBA MVP this season.

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Joel Embiid

If you want to know how historic Embiid’s performance was on Monday, consider these stats:

– Embiid’s 70 points broke Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers single-game franchise record of 68.

– He is just the ninth player in NBA history to score at least 70 points in a game.

– He is the first player in NBA history to record at least 70 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a game.

– He is only the third player in NBA history to put up at least 70 points and 15 rebounds in a game, along with Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.

Coincidentally, Embiid’s 70-point game came on the 18th anniversary of Kobe Bryant torching the Toronto Raptors for 81 points (sorry, Dinos fans). One major area of concern for Embiid’s chances of repeating as MVP is a new NBA rule that says players must play at least 65 games to be considered for major awards. Embiid has already missed 10 of Philadelphia’s 42 games this season, so he can only miss seven of the final 40 games to remain eligible. But, if Embiid remains healthy, he should be a lock to be the third straight player to win back-to-back MVPs.

Nikola Jokic

Jokic is looking to add more hardware to his trophy cabinet after winning MVPs in 2021 and 2022 while also winning an NBA championship and Finals MVP last season. He is averaging 26.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 1.1 steals and a career-high 1.0 blocks through 43 games this season. Availability shouldn’t shouldn’t be a concern as he’s only missed one game this season and he’s never missed more than 13 games in a season. Jokic has stellar shooting numbers, hitting 58.7 per cent of his shots from the field and 35 per cent from beyond the arc. If Embiid doesn’t play 65 games, Jokic will win a third career MVP.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

At just 25-years-old, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seems destined to eventually become the first Canadian to win MVP since Steve Nash won back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006. The Hamilton native has continued to climb the MVP odds all season and he currently trails only Embiid and Jokic for the third-shortest MVP odds. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 31.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals (leads NBA) and 0.8 blocks per game on 54.9 per cent shooting. He’ll make his MVP case even stronger even he can lead the Thunder to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Dark horse candidates

Luka Doncic

Luka Donic is another player who seems destined to win MVP someday. The 24-year-old Slovenian is having a career year, averaging 33.6 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 37.6 per cent from beyond the arc. The biggest setback for Doncic is Dallas’ spot in the standings. The Mavs need to make the playoffs for Doncic to win MVP.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Never count out 2018 and 2019 MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is third in league scoring with 31.2 ppg and his 11.5 rebounds per game is sixth-best. Antetokounmpo’s path to MVP is similar to Gilgeous-Alexander’s as the Bucks likely need to win top seed in the Eastern Conference for Antetokounmpo to surpass Embiid or Jokic.

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum is averaging 27.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists through 41 games. He’s been a first-team All-NBA player in each of the last two seasons and he’s increased his points, rebounds and assists every year he’s been in the league. Tatum will need to set new career-highs again if he wants a shot at MVP.