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Previewing the 2022 NBA MVP Race Odds – Why Ja Morant Is the Best Bet

| February 17, 2022 9:56 am PDT

Ja Morant is having a breakout season for the Memphis Grizzlies. The third-year guard is averaging career highs across the board while leading the Grizzlies to a top-three spot in the Western Conference.

Despite the great season, we don’t hear people talk about Morant on the same level as Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. That might be a good thing for bettors because he’ll continue to present great value for the 2022 NBA MVP.

How are his odds looking compared to his competition? BetOnline gives us the odds for the 2022 NBA MVP.

2022 NBA MVP Odds

Joel Embiid+125
Nikola Jokic+325
Giannis Antetokounmpo+375
Stephen Curry+650
Ja Morant+1200
Devin Booker+2500
Chris Paul+3300
DeMar DeRozan+3300
Kevin Durant+5000
Luka Doncic+5000

Ja Morant is sitting in his own tier with (+1200) odds. The sportsbooks respect him enough to put him in the top five, but he isn’t among the favorites. Stephen Curry is in that group, and last month, we talked about why he isn’t a good bet to win the 2022 NBA MVP.

After Morant, there is a steep drop-off to players like Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeMar DeRozan. Kevin Durant was among the top contenders, but an MCL sprain has left him sidelined.

Right now, I think Morant presents great value. He isn’t among the top contenders, but the sportsbooks also recognize he is someone that can pop off at any time. With the All-Star break approaching, this seems like a good time to place your NBA MVP bet.

Let’s talk about a few reasons Morant presents excellent value for the 2022 NBA MVP.

The Memphis Grizzlies Are in Championship Contention

For much of the 2010s, the Memphis Grizzlies were a consistent playoff contender. They advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2013 but lost in a four-game sweep to the San Antonio Spurs.

Memphis hit rock bottom with a 22-60 record in the 2017-18 season. They improved the following season, but they were still among the worst teams. Luckily, the NBA Draft lottery gave them the second overall pick, which they used to select Ja Morant.

Last season, Morant helped the Grizzlies advance from the play-in tournament and make the playoffs the No. 8 seed. People expected improvement this season, but they also recognized how difficult it is to play in the Western Conference.

Memphis wasn’t looking great with a 9-10 start. However, they won 10 of their next 11 games to surge into contention.

In December, the Grizzlies had a three-game losing streak, but they’re 21-4 since then. Maybe we should be talking about the Grizzlies as a good bet to win the NBA Finals. They meet the Phil Jackson criteria of teams in championship contention.

Their success plays a major factor in Morant’s MVP hopes.

It’s not often you see an MVP contender from a team that isn’t in championship contention. Nikola Jokic is borderline because the Denver Nuggets are sixth in the Western Conference. LeBron James is having a great season, but the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles have him outside of the 2022 NBA MVP race.

Memphis has the third-best record in the league at 40-18. In the Western Conference, it’s fair to say they’ve exceeded expectations more than anyone else. They’ve done so with Morant leading the way.

They don’t show any signs of slowing down. That means Morant will have the spotlight for the remainder of the season. That’ll put him in an excellent position to contend for the 2022 NBA MVP.

Ja Morant Continues to Get Better and Better

Ja Morant came into this season looking to take the next step to superstar status. He had a great start to the season, but we saw his numbers slip in November.

He averaged 22.0 points on 45.3 percent field goal shooting and 33.3 three-point percentage. Unfortunately, he failed to finish the month after suffering a knee injury on November 26. Thankfully, Morant came back just before Christmas.

Morant had an impressive stretch from the end of December to early January that saw him clear 30 points in four straight games.

January was by far his best month of the season. He didn’t have the best start, but his final seven games were a scoring clinic.

  • @ Milwaukee Bucks: 33 points
  • @ Denver Nuggets: 38 points
  • @ Dallas Maverick: 35 points
  • @ San Antonio Spurs: 41 points
  • Utah Jazz: 30 points
  • Washington Wizards: 34 points
  • @ Philadelphia 76ers: 37 points

That stretch also included two double-doubles and a triple-double. Morant was finding multiple ways to impact the game. He averaged 29.1 points, 7.1 assists, and 6.4 rebounds, while shooting 49.8 percent from the field.

Despite missing a month of game action, Morant made the All-Star Game as a starter for the first time in his career. The Western Conference has so many great guards, so that should tell you how the fans, media, and players view him.

Overall, his 26.4 points per game ranks seventh in the NBA. His assists numbers are slightly down, but he is on pace to set a career-high in almost every other stat. That includes field goal percentage, despite attempting five more shots per game.

The NBA MVP vote is more about your success in the second half of the season. He is heating up at the right time. We’ll see him among the favorites for the 2022 NBA MVP if that continues.

Ja Morant Doesn’t Have MVP Competition on His Roster

This might be a hot take because the Memphis Grizzlies are more than Ja Morant. Dillon Brooks was having a great season before his knee injury, and Desmond Bane is having the best season of his career.

However, the Grizzlies don’t have another All-Star on their roster. Honestly, when you think of the Grizzlies, do you think of Bane, Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. or just Morant? I think most people would say the latter.

That’ll help him in the NBA MVP race because voters won’t focus on other players. Some of the other top contenders won’t have that luxury.

It looks like Joel Embiid is starting to run away with the 2022 NBA MVP, but how will his numbers look with James Harden? We know the Philadelphia 76ers NBA Finals odds shifted with the trade. Harden will have a bigger role than players like Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry don’t have as extreme a case, but they have high-quality teammates. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday play alongside Antetokounmpo, with Curry dealing with Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole.

Honestly, I think that’s why you see players like Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeMar DeRozan further down the MVP board.

The Phoenix Suns have the best record in the NBA, but Booker and Paul have played a 1A and 1B role. That’s great for their championship hopes, but it’s not ideal for the 2022 NBA MVP race.

DeRozan is having the best year of his career, putting up unreal numbers in February.

  • 35.6 points
  • 6.1 rebounds
  • 5.8 assists
  • 56.9 field goal percentage

Those are great numbers, yet DeRozan is a longshot in the 2022 NBA MVP race. I have to believe it has something to do with Zach LaVine.

Morant stealing the spotlight in Memphis greatly helps his MVP chances.

Voter Fatigue

This could be a reach, but voter fatigue is a real thing. For those who aren’t aware, voter fatigue is when a player consistently wins an award, so voters won’t vote for them, despite posting MVP-caliber numbers.

It also happens because we expect more from that player when you win an MVP. Some probably believe Ja Morant averaging 26.4 points this season is more impressive than Giannis Antetokounmpo averaging 29.0 points.

I’d say someone like Antetokounmpo is a great example of voter fatigue. Let’s compare his numbers between the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons.

2018-19 2020-21
Points 27.7 28.1
Rebounds 12.5 11.0
Assists 5.9 5.9
Steals 1.3 1.2
Blocks 1.5 1.2
Field Goal Percentage 57.8 56.9

In the 2018-19 season, Antetokounmpo earned 78 first-place votes to win MVP. Last year, he finished fourth with one first-place vote.

Other factors go into NBA MVP voting, but was he that much worse last season? No, but he was going for his third straight MVP, which probably didn’t help his case.

I don’t think voter fatigue will hurt someone like Joel Embiid because he finished second last season. However, what about Nikola Jokic? He won last season, so we expect more from him. He is having another great season, but most of his numbers are slightly down.

Then, we go back to Morant. He has exceeded expectations more than any other player in the 2022 NBA MVP race. That’s why he is the odds-on favorite to win the Most Improved Player Award.

He has the numbers to compete with Antetokounmpo and Jokic. Voter fatigue may or may not affect them, but it’s a real possibility. Embiid likely won’t have to deal with that, but James Harden could cut into his workload after the All-Star Break.

Voters should be eager to award Morant with his first NBA MVP award.

Ja Morant Can Stay Healthy Down the Stretch

Injuries play a significant factor in the NBA MVP race. We’ve seen players well on their way to competing for MVP before an injury took them out of the race. Last season, it happened to LeBron James and Joel Embiid. This season, it happened to Kevin Durant.

Now what’s interesting about this is you can miss time at the beginning of the season. That’s why I don’t believe Morant missing 12 games in November and December will affect his MVP chances.

In his first two seasons, the NBA didn’t play the whole 82-gam season. Morant missed eight games early in the 2020-21 season, but aside from that, check out his missed games in his first two seasons.

  • 2019-20: 6
  • 2020-21: 1

He only missed one game after the All-Star break in either season. Morant has done a great job staying healthy in the most crucial time of the season. Can we say the same about his competitors?

Last season, Antetokounmpo missed 10 games in the final two months. We know Embiid has dealt with injuries his entire career. He missed five games right before the 2019-20 season pause. He missed 15 games after the All-Star break last season.

Embiid finished second in MVP voting last season, but he was the leader when he suffered a knee injury. Those missed games left him way behind Nikola Jokic.

Now Jokic is the MVP contender who can compete with Morant in games played. He has played at least 72 games in every season of his career. This season, he has only missed six games.

Staying healthy down the stretch will be vital in staying in MVP contention. Morant is behind the top contenders right now, so he needs to find a way to make up ground. It might sound simple, but staying healthy could be the key.

Ja Morant’s NBA MVP Chances in 2022

This season, Ja Morant has been nothing short of amazing for the Memphis Grizzlies. The third-year guard averages 26.4 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.9 rebounds, while shooting 49.3 percent from the field.

Memphis’ status as an NBA Finals contender boosts Morant’s chances to win the 2022 NBA MVP. With the All-Star break approaching, this could be the highest his odds are for the remainder of the season. I wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity.

While we have a break in NBA action, make sure you check out the top NBA sportsbooks. They’ll give you the best odds for the 2022 NBA MVP.

Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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