The 2022 NBA regular season is almost over and speculation about the league MVP, and other postseason awards, is starting to fly hot and heavy. No Portland Trail Blazers players are candidates for the major awards, though guard Anfernee Simons was a likely pick for Most Improved Player before injuries scuttled his season. But the rest of the league is debating, so we figured we’d give you a chance to as well.
The 2022 NBA MVP race appears to be a three-person duel, with a fourth lurking on the outside edge. Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the favorite, with a -185 line at DraftKings. He’s followed closely by Philadelphia 76’ers center Joel Embiid at +185. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is third at +550, with Suns guard Devin Booker looking in at +2800.
It’s fascinating how, in just a couple years, the showpiece players of the league have become bigs. It’s still a guard-dominated game, but talented 7-footers stand out from the pack more than high-scoring point guards. NBA offenses have caught up, using the passing and cutting powers of centers more than was typical 3-4 years ago.
You can’t go wrong with Giannis, but my MVP is still Jokic. He makes more difference to his team than any other single player in the league.
Defensive Player of the Year
This race is far tighter, with no clear front runner. Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has experienced a career resurgence. He currently ranks as the favorite at +120. But Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo is not far behind at +300, with Mikal Bridges (+350) and Rudy Gobert (+450) right behind.
I like smart, but Adebayo changes the game for the Heat, so he’d be my pick, personally. Any of those four players could make a legitimate case for the award, though.
Rookie of the Year
Everyone is on the Evan Mobley bandwagon, and for good reason. The 7-footer is averaging 14.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 51% for a Cavaliers team poised for their first playoffs run since LeBron James left (again). DraftKings has Mobley at -330.
Toronto forward Scottie Barnes trails Mobley with +225 odds, with Pistons point guard Cade Cunningham third at +700.
Mobley’s got to be the guy here, but Barnes would be a solid pick as well.
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