This article is part of our NBA Picks series.
As we look ahead to the 2022-23 NBA season, it's time to evaluate which players are the true contenders for the MVP award. Denver's Nikola Jokic enters the season as the two-time defending winner. Jokic will look to become the first player since Larry Bird (1984-86) to three-peat as the league's Most Valuable Player.
For the third consecutive season, Luka Doncic opens as the betting favorite at the DraftKings Sportsbook, with his 2023 NBA MVP odds installed at +450. A three-time First Team All-NBA performer, Doncic ranked fifth in MVP voting last season behind Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker.
Beyond Doncic, the top of the list is predictably filled with top-tier talent. Embiid checks in at +650, while Antetokounmpo -- who's already won the award twice -- sits at 7/1. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, Jokic, Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant are each listed at +1200.
2023 NBA MVP Odds
2023 NBA MVP ODDS
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of July 28
NBA MVP Odds: Best Bets
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+700)
Already a two-time winner, Antetokounmpo has been victimized by some degree of voter fatigue over the last two seasons. While Jokic has no doubt been a deserving winner, no player in the NBA matches Antetokounmpo's two-way impact on a night-to-night basis. It's now been two seasons since he last won an MVP (2019-20), so with the fatigue having worn off, he'll be back in the mix for a Bucks team that will be in the mix for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (+1200)
While Tatum is coming off of a disastrous Finals performance, it shouldn't overshadow how brilliant he was over the second half of last season. From January 10 on (40 games), Tatum posted 28.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. If he can keep that production up over the course of an entire season, and the Celtics once again assert themselves as the top team in the East, Tatum will carry a strong narrative into the 2022-23 season.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (+1800)
Hear me out. The Lakers have plenty to sort out before the regular season starts, but if they can find a trade partner for Russell Westbrook, this could return to being a very, very good team. James already has four MVPs to his name, but it's been nearly a full decade since his last win in 2012-13. While injuries have been a major factor for James since arriving in Los Angeles, it's important to remember that, when healthy, he's remained one of the league's most dominant forces.
James has played in only 101 regular season games over the last two seasons, but in those games he's put up 27.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks on 52 percent shooting. As he continues to get older -- he'll turn 38 in December -- James' accomplishments only become more impressive. If he's able to stay healthy and the Lakers can hang around the top-five in the West, it's easy to imagine a Can you believe he's doing this at 38 years old?! narrative unfolding.
NBA MVP Odds: Favorite Longshot Bet
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (+5000)
Coming off of essentially a lost season, Lillard is in prime position for a massive bounceback year. Provided he stays healthy -- something he's done every season except for 2021-22 -- the numbers will be there. The question is whether Portland will be a good enough team to push Lillard into the MVP race. He's finished in the top-10 five times in the past, including a fourth-place finish in 2017-18. Lillard will need to catch a few breaks, but at 50/1 he's worth a sprinkle.
Sign up and place your NBA futures bets with DraftKings Promo Code.