NBA Awards Odds Update

by AAA Sports

Homestretch in the Association, and as time runs short here’s a look at the who, what, when, where and why for the leading contenders for individual awards. Odds are current.

MVP

Joel Embiid -115
Nikola Jokic +300
Giannis Antetokounmpo +550

Embiid seemed giddy after his Sixers sent out non-participant Ben Simmons and role players for James Harden, and indeed Harden’s arrival in Philadelphia may have come too late in the game to disrupt the narrative that Embiid is going to win it after carrying the team on his back in a much-stronger Eastern Conference.  What could deny Embiid the trophy is a 76er slump over the final few weeks – and the schedule appears daunting – that could drop them two or three spots in the cramped East and created doubts in the minds of the voters. Jokic’s odds seem a little skewed considering Denver has slipped to 6th in the West, chances of a repeat MVP sliding along with the team. Antetokounmpo’s brilliance could produce a third MVP, were it not for the fact that Embiid’s relatively good health and Philly’s sustained strong play in the absence of Simmons has kept the spotlight on the Philly center. Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozen could break into the top 3, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum is surging too late after mediocre play for the first two-thirds of the season.

MOST IMPROVED

Ja Morant  -1100
Miles Bridges +900
Darius Garland +1500

Morant might be in the MVP discussion were it not for the fact that his Grizzlies played well even when he was out injured, but he’s had the MIP Award locked up since the holidays. As Larry Bird said at the All-Star Game 3-point contest way back when, “Which of you guys is playing for second place?” Morant’s numbers are up across the board (his scoring average jumped more than 8 points over last year), and more importantly Memphis is getting long hard looks from pundits who think that the young Grizzlies can win a few playoff rounds in a diminished Western Conference.  Bridges has been a solid contributor in his first year as a starter for Charlotte and Garland has thrived in Cleveland with Collin Sexton out, but this hardware will belong to Morant.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Evan Mobley -650
Scottie Barnes +500
Cade Cunningham +600

Hard to see Mobley NOT becoming the third Cavalier to win the Rookie of the Year trophy (after LeBron James and Kyrie Irving). The big man can do a lot of things that today’s big men are asked to do, and he’s had a huge impact on the team’s success. Mobley had 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 assists this past weekend as the Cavs ended a 6-losses-in-7-games skid by beating Toronto. If Cleveland has a half-decent finish to the season and stays clear of the Play-In tournament, Mobley should have more than enough solid play in the bank to hold off Barnes. Cunningham is the future in Detroit, and he has the Pistons finishing strong, but the No. 1 overall draft pick was hurt early and struggled mid-season. If the team improves and he stays healthy, he will be a MIP candidate in 2022-23.


SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

Tyler Herro -2500
Kelly Oubre +2500
Kevin Love +2500

Herro put this one to bed early on, being a 20-ppg scorer off the bench (and sometimes starter; he averages 33 minutes) and a key cog in Miami’s system of interchangeable parts. It doesn’t hurt that the Heat control the East and barring a bad run should have home-court advantage for the first three playoff rounds. Oubre (Hornets) and Love (Cavaliers) are long shots at best.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Rudy Gobert -150
Giannis Antetokounmpo +425
Jaren Jackson Jr. +900

Yes, the Jazz have slipped and yes there’s probably something to the talk about discord in Salt Lake City. But the chalk right now is Gobert, and strange things would have to happen down the stretch for Gobert not to win this award for the fourth time. East big men Bam Adebayo (Miami) and Robert Williams (Boston) are laying the groundwork for runs at this award when Gobert starts to run out of gas.


COACH OF THE YEAR

Monty Williams -300
J.B. Bickerstaff +375
Taylor Jenkins +650

Williams clinched this award when Phoenix took complete control of the West with an 8-game winning streak in February, and the Suns can spend the rest of the year getting its Chris Paul / Devin Booker backcourt healthy for the post-season. Another Finals trip is definitely possible for Williams. Bickerstaff will get some love from the voters, for sure, but the Cavs’ struggles of late will cost him at the ballot box. Likewise with Memphis’s Jenkins. Boston’s Ime Udoka (+5000) is out the running, but the Celtics are scorching hot and talk of him being on thin ice is now off the table.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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