2022 NBA MVP Prediction, Sleeper Picks & Award Odds
With the 2021 NBA Finals wrapped up, the big names of free agency signed with their new (and old) respective teams, and the Olympics being over, it’s already time to look ahead to next season and see who’s the favorite to win the NBA MVP award.
This past year’s award race was different than most years. Nikola Jokić became the first center to win the MVP award since Shaquille O’Neal took it home in 2000. Not only that, but fellow center Joel Embiid finished 2nd in voting for the award.
While the usual suspects are at the top of the list, the MVP award race is wide open. We saw it last year and in previous seasons that a player can break out and take over. According to BetMGM, the top 5 favorites to win the NBA MVP award are as follows:
- Luka Dončić (+400)
- Joel Embiid (+700)
- Kevin Durant (+700)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800)
- Steph Curry (+900)
While players such as Dončić and Durant have risen their stock by their strong performances at the 2020 Olympics, others have seen their stock rise by offseason additions via free agency.
With all that said, plenty of players have put themselves in a good spot to make a run at the 2021-22 NBA MVP award. Here are The Game Day’s sleeper picks and predictions for who will come out on top next season as the NBA’s best.
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2022 NBA MVP Sleeper Bets
James Harden, G, Brooklyn Nets (+2500)
James Harden To Win MVP (2021-22 NBA Season)
Bet $20, Payout $520
At the start of last season, James Harden was a favorite to win the MVP award. He was coming off his third consecutive year winning the scoring title and he was the number one option for the Houston Rockets.
After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, it seemed his chances dwindled, as he was surrounded by other superstars in Durant and Kyrie Irving. His chances of winning the award, however, went up, as Harden was a top contender to win the award before a hamstring injury sidelined him for 18 games, killing his momentum.
How did Harden emerge as a favorite to win MVP as a member of a “big 3?” The reason for that is that the Nets trio only played eight regular-season games together. So when Durant or Irving was out, Harden did what he had to do and took over.
With Harden on the court, the Nets were 29-7 and enjoyed multiple win streaks. He played very efficiently in Brooklyn, posting 28 double-doubles and 12 triple-doubles.
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2012, last year was the lowest PPG average in Harden’s career. He did, however, have an uptick in assists, rebounds, and field goal percentage. Now that he’s more comfortable in Steve Nash’s system and with Durant and Irving returning fully healthy, Harden should have every opportunity to light it up.
While Durant is riding the momentum into the season after winning the gold in Tokyo, don’t count out Harden. He has shown that he can still put up big numbers and take over with another star sharing the court with him. If it wasn’t for injuries, Harden could’ve very well snuck in and won the award last year. That could be the case again this upcoming year.
Donovan Mitchell, G, Utah Jazz (+3000)
Donovan Mitchell To Win MVP (2021-22 NBA Season)
Bet $20, Payout $620
When it comes to the young stars in the game today, you can’t leave out Donovan Mitchell. At 24 years old, Mitchell has established himself as the number one scoring option for the Utah Jazz. He can drive to the rim with force, he can shoot from pretty much anywhere on the court, he can play on the ball/off the ball — the point is, Mitchell can do whatever you need him to do in order to succeed.
The Jazz had a lot of success last year, finishing as the top seed in an always tough Western Conference. With virtually everyone returning from last year’s squad (with some veteran additions), Utah has put themselves in a spot to possibly repeat as the top team in the West. And through that success, that means Mitchell will have another big year.
Mitchell had a career-best year in 2021, posting career-highs in points (26.4), assists (5.2), three-point percentage (38.6), and field goals attempted (20.6). Mitchell is not only getting his scoring up, but also moving the ball around more and finding open teammates. He’s grown from a sparkplug shooting guard to a player that can handle the offense himself.
An ankle sprain sidelined Mitchell for the final 16 games of the regular season, but he was able to return to take over during the playoffs. He didn’t shy away from the bright lights, as he averaged 32.3 points, 5.5 assists, and shot over 43 percent from the floor and deep during the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Mitchell has the ability to put his game into the next gear at any moment, and he’ll need to do that in order to win the MVP award.
2022 NBA MVP Prediction
Luka Dončić, G, Dallas Mavericks (+400)
Luka Dončić To Win MVP (2021-22 NBA Season)
Bet $20, Payout $100
Luka Dončić has established himself as one of the best players in the NBA at the young age of 22. He is a generational talent and could go down as one of the best players of all time. Don’t believe me? I think his five-year, $207 million supermax rookie extension speaks for itself (it’s the largest guaranteed rookie extension in NBA history, by the way).
Along with the big contract, Dončić has a long list of accomplishments: 2-time All-NBA First Team, 2-Time NBA All-Star, 2019 Rookie of the Year, and he was the youngest EuroLeague MVP in EuroLeague history. Dončić has been dominating professional basketball leagues since he was 16 years old. After finishing 4th in MVP voting in 2020, he was one of the favorites to win the award last year. Even though he finished the season strong, he was 6th in MVP voting.
Although he was unable to bring home a medal for Slovenia this summer, Dončić dominated the Olympics. Dončić was 3rd in points (23.8), tied-2nd in rebounds (9.7), and led the Olympics in assists (9.5). Dončić also recorded the third triple-double in Men’s Olympic Basketball history.
Dončić is the best playmaker and facilitator on the floor right now and will continue to amaze this upcoming season. Under new head coach Jason Kidd, Dončić should see even more improvement in his game.
There has been no sign of stopping Dončić and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes the season averaging a triple-double. This is the best and safest bet to make.
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