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MVP race ‘wide open’ after LeBron, Embiid injuries

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Injuries to LeBron James and Joel Embiid have thrown the NBA MVP betting market into a bit of flux.

Earlier this month, James and Embiid were the co-favorites to win the MVP at BetMGM. Now, with both nursing injuries, Nikola Jokic has moved into the pole position with +110 odds. Embiid is next at +550 with James at +600, Giannis Antetokounmpo at +700 and James Harden at +1000.

James, Embiid were co-favorites before injuries

After Embiid put up 40 points and 19 rebounds in Philadelphia’s win over the Utah Jazz back on March 3, Embiid became the co-betting favorite to win MVP alongside James at BetMGM at +250.

On March 12, in his first game after the all-star break, Embiid hyperextended his knee in a win over the Washington Wizards. Embiid hasn’t played since and the Sixers are expected to proceed with caution with their star big man’s return to the floor.

At the time, Embiid’s injury pushed him down to +650 in the MVP odds, with Jokic moving into the No. 2 slot behind James at +220.

But the odds then shifted again when James suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 20 against the Atlanta Hawks. James is expected to miss several weeks, putting his MVP chances in serious jeopardy.

His injury also opens the door for other contenders.

“With LeBron and Embiid both being injured, the NBA MVP race is wide open,” said Seamus Magee, a sports trader for BetMGM. “Jokic is currently the betting favorite but LeBron and Embiid are still significant liabilities for BetMGM.”

Among NBA MVP bets, James has received 27.3% of the tickets and 31.2% of the money at BetMGM. Embiid has received 12.2 percent of the bets, but 29.2% of the money.

Antetokounmpo, the two-time defending MVP, has received the second-most tickets (13.3%) but the fifth-most money (5.0%). Jokic has received the fourth-most tickets (9.8%) and the third-most money (11.1%) while Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has received the fifth-most tickets (9.6%) and the fourth-most money (5.3%).

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Current NBA MVP odds via BetMGM

Jokic: +110

Embiid: +550

James: +600

Antetokounmpo: +700

Harden: +1000

Doncic: +1200

Damian Lillard: +1300

Steph Curry: +1500

Kawhi Leonard: +2800

Kevin Durant: +10000

Donovan Mitchell: +10000

Devin Booker: +10000

Paul George: +10000

Jayson Tatum: +15000

Kyrie Irving: +15000

Zion Williamson: +20000

Anthony Davis: +25000

Chris Paul: +25000

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