Doncic, Antetokounmpo betting favorites to win 2023 NBA MVP – NBC Sports





Nikola Jokic is the two-time defending NBA MVP, but history would suggest don’t bet on him for a three-peat. The last player to win three MVPs in a row? Larry Bird, from 1984-86. Almost 40 years ago.
But if not Jokic, then who? Which players are the favorite to grab the MVP trophy? The list starts with Luka Doncic. From our partners at Points Bet, here are the dozen players with the lowest odds to win NBA MVP next season (the odds are how much you would win on a $100 bet).
Luka Doncic +450
Giannis Antetokounmpo +600
Joel Embiid +600
Nikola Jokic +1000
Kevin Durant +1000
Stephen Curry +1000
Jayson Tatum +1200
Ja Morant +1400
Devin Booker +2200
Kawhi Leonard +2500
Trae Young +2500
LeBron James +2500
It’s not surprising that Doncic is the odds-on favorite. He’s an elite player whose team just lost their No. 2 shot creator — his load just got heavier and his counting stats likely will up. If he comes into the season in shape and ready to play, he has a legitimate shot.
If not Doncic, my money would be on Joel Embiid, who has finished second to Jokic each of the past two seasons and should be in the mix again. Even if James Harden is healthy and taking on some of the scoring load, and Tyrese Maxey takes a step forward, Embiid will put up efficient offensive numbers and be a defensive anchor. He will again be in the mix.
There’s another NBA MVP bet people seem to be leaning into: Zion Williamson, who is +6600 at Points Bet.
#1 most bet on for NBA MVP at @CaesarsSports:
Zion Williamson at 55/1.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 29, 2022

Two bets I would not make: Kevin Durant and LeBron James. It’s not that they are not good enough to win the award or will not have the stats to be in consideration, but both are getting up in age (Durant is 34, LeBron 37) and have an injury history — are they going to play enough games? One of Jokic’s strengths in winning this award the past couple of years is he is on the court — he missed a total of eight games over the last two seasons. LeBron and Durant will likely miss double-digit games (same with Kawhi Leonard) as their teams look ahead to the postseason rather than be focused on winning a random Tuesday game in December.
Victor Wembanyama. Scoot Henderson.
Two franchise-changing players sit at the top of the 2023 NBA Draft, and there has been plenty of talk around the league about teams pivoting and taking this season after an injury or slow start, even if they have a limited shot at landing a top pick. It’s a strong draft at the top beyond those two potential cornerstones, and for many teams a chance at a player like Wembanyama is worth more than a play-in game or two.
Adam Silver says the league has taken note. Silver talked about tanking during a Q&A with Suns employees this week, as reported by Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
“We put teams on notice,” Silver told employees. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year…
“It’s something we have to watch for,” Silver said. “A draft is, in principle, a good system. But I get it, especially when there is a sense that a once-in-a-generation player is coming along, like we have this year.”
Words and a memo are nice, but what exactly can Silver and the league office do beyond that? In theory they could fine a team or take away draft picks for blatant tanking,  but that would require proof of intending to lose games — teams are smart enough to avoid that. From long rests for relatively minor injuries to leaning into playing their youth for experience, there are legitimate basketball reasons teams can come up with, reasons that just happen lower their odds of winning.
The NBA took steps to reduce tanking a few years back by flattening out the lottery odds — the three worst teams have only a 14% chance of the No. 1 pick — and creating the play-in tournament to spark late-season races and give teams something to play for. That has worked for a couple of years, but Wembanyama changes the equation — that kind of player can turn a franchise into a contender, and for an owner add $500 million or more to the team’s worth. Teams will tank for a chance to land a player like that.
Silver said the NBA did look into the idea of relegation — as seen in European soccer leagues, where the worst teams go down a level and the best teams go up — but said it doesn’t work for the NBA and its economic model.
So the NBA has to come up with other ideas to keep teams from tanking. Good luck with that in a season where Wembanyama is the prize.
 
 
After missing Chicago’s first two games of the season due to left knee injury management, Zach LaVine will make his season debut against the Cavaliers in Chicago on Saturday.
Billy Donovan told reporters on Friday that LaVine would be available for this game, but the injury report that was released Saturday afternoon confirmed Donovan’s comments.
Billy Donovan says Zach LaVine should play tomorrow pic.twitter.com/8Q66ecOxSa
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) October 21, 2022

LaVine missed some games late last season because of this knee and had arthroscopic surgery on it in May after Chicago was eliminated from the playoffs. He seemed to be fine in the preseason before missing the first two games of the year.
With the arrival of DeMar DeRozan, Chicago returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 last year, which was LaVine’s first taste of postseason basketball. He also made his first All-Star appearance, averaging 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Bulls.
If the team wants to build on last season’s success, they’ll need LaVine healthy. Lonzo Ball is out indefinitely with his knee issues, so LaVine missing games would derail Chicago’s hopes of making it past the first round for the first time since 2015.
LaVine should immediately return to the starting lineup for the Bulls, where he’ll join DeRoza, Ayo Dosunmu, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic. Alex Caruso, who had been starting at shooting guard, will likely return to a bench role.
This is why the Wizards paid Bradley Beal the big bucks. (Well, that and he’s by far their most marketable star.)
With the game on the line, the Bulls threw two defenders at Beal — including their best man defender in Alex Caruso — and Beal still hit a contested, leaning bank shot to give the Wizards a 102-100 win.
BEAL WINS IT FOR WASHINGTON!!!!!!!!
HOME OPENER DUBBBBBBB pic.twitter.com/Fx7kZBU76L
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) October 22, 2022

DeMar DeRozan missed a 3-pointer for the Bulls to win it, and that’s the ballgame.
Beal finished with 19 points, but the big star for Washington was Kyle Kuzma, who dropped 26 on Chicago.
Kuz was KEY in the @WashWizards‘ win tonight that concluded with Brad Beal’s game-winning bucket!@kylekuzma: 26 PTS, 6 REB, 4 3PM pic.twitter.com/CnszVF5s84
— NBA (@NBA) October 22, 2022

The Bulls, still playing without Zach LaVine, got 32 from DeMar DeRozan to lead them, plus Nikola Vucevic added 24 points and eight rebounds. LaVine is expected to return Saturday to the Chicago lineup.
PARIS (AP) — Victor Wembanyama scored his team’s first points after just 54 seconds, then pumped his arms when he assisted on the last score of Friday night’s game with a pass that traveled nearly the length of the court.
“Wembamania” is sweeping France and everyone is trying to get a look at the 18-year-old prodigy widely expected to become an NBA star.
Even 85-year-old former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who called the club’s president to ask for a ticket. The Socialist Party politician watched as Wembanyama scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting for Paris-based Metropolitans 92 in a 113-88 win against Blois. He went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and had seven rebounds and five blocks.
Grinning after a slick alley-oop and dunk late in the game, the 7-foot-3 Wembanyama then drew the roar of the night when he made a deep 3. Those few minutes of effortless-looking yet ruthless play were worth the entrance fee for the crowd of roughly 4,000.
He even did a little improvised coaching on court, tapping his head as if to say “think” to a teammate. Before the game started, he twice tapped the undersoles his of giant shoes.
Wembanyama drew a huge cheer when he sprinted like an Olympian – his angular running style making his arms look like pistons – to get back and block a shot near the end of the first quarter.
NBA great LeBron James described Wembanyama’s athleticism by saying “no one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid.”
Wembanyama did let frustration get to him at times on Friday, dropping his head when he missed one block. He looked annoyed with the officials – raising his hands as if to say, “Oh, come on!” – when a Blois player appeared to trip him.
He had only five points in the first half, without trying a 3, but made five blocks. After hitting a 3-pointer 40 seconds into the third quarter, he then launched himself into the air to catch a pass and throw the ball off-balance back to captain Lahaou Konate, clenching his fist when Konate’s shot went in.
He jumped up from his seat and slapped a towel in appreciation when another teammate made a deep 3-pointer in the third period, before he turned entertainer again.
The crowd was small compared to what awaits Wembanyama in the NBA. When his name was read as part of the starting five, huge cheers broke out around the compact arena.
He is considered the likely top pick in the 2023 NBA draft and is a near-certainty to be the first top-five draft pick from France.
He’ll be 19 1/2 years old – almost exactly the same age soccer star Kylian Mbappe was when he starred for France in its 2018 World Cup win. Both prodigies grew up in the suburbs of Paris, where Wembanyama could take the baton from judo great Teddy Riner as France’s new Olympic star at the 2024 Games.
The hype surrounding Wembanyama is growing and national news channel France 2 aired a report on him after his jaw-dropping performances in two exhibition games in Las Vegas.
Metropolitans president Alain Weisz, who launched four-time NBA champion Tony Parker’s international career with France, said tickets for Friday’s game were made available 10 days ago and sold out in two hours. The game at Le Mans last Saturday – Wembanyama’s first after his Las Vegas bonanza – saw that modest club sell all 6,000 tickets for the first time.
“What the lad’s doing is unheard of,” Weisz told France Info radio. “It’s not just young people here or rappers who identity with Victor. Even Lionel Jospin called me for a ticket. What happened in the United States created an interest level what was unimaginable.”
Jospin served as France’s Prime Minister from 1997 to 2002.
The club has already sold twice as many jerseys as last season in one month of competition – 85% with Wembanyama’s name. An average of six scouts come to each game and one from the Sacramento Kings even spent two days watching him train before attending the Le Mans game.
“Victor’s determination is extraordinary,” Weisz said. “He reminds me a lot of Tony Parker.”
Wembanyama looks like the ultimate perfectionist.
One hour before Friday’s game, he muttered in annoyance at himself for missing a couple of close-range shots during warmups.
Wemby, as he is already affectionately called, was lethal in Las Vegas. He finished two exhibition games with 73 points, nine 3-pointers, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots and an army of fans dreaming of what he might do in the NBA.
He’s coached at Metropolitans 92 by Vincent Collet – France’s longtime national team coach who lead the team to a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

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