Donovan Mitchell delivered an exclamation point on Monday night, scoring 71 points in the Cavaliers win over the Bulls. To what degree should we consider Mitchell a player in the 2023 NBA MVP odds race?
2023 NBA MVP Favorites & Dark Horses
The top four of the NBA MVP race remains steady.
Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo possess the shortest odds across the top NBA betting sites.
Jokic and Antetokounmpo account for the last four NBA MVP awards. Both the Nuggets and Bucks are playing well, putting the Joker and Greek Freak, respectively, in position to make it five.
The Boston Celtics own the league’s best record, and as their best player, Tatum is positioned well to take home the NBA’s top individual honor. Doncic has picked up steam in the race recently though. He is pacing his peers with the shortest MVP odds. Some of that is due to the Mavericks’ recent form which has them sitting in fourth place in the West.
Is Donovan Mitchell a Serious MVP Candidate?
While Mitchell may be an unlikely MVP candidate, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a serious one. Mitchell’s shortest odds are +2000 at Caesars Sportsbook. In light of his scoring eruption though, it’s worth considering Mitchell’s odds with an open mind.
To put it plainly, Mitchell is playing at an MVP level. He’s averaging career bests in scoring, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. A significant degree of the Cavaliers’ success to this point – they’re fourth in the East – is due to Mitchell.
He leads the team in shots (20.6) and usage rate (31.8% percent). The next closest in those departments is backcourt mate Darius Garland with 16.4 and 26.9%, respectively.
An optimist may look at the current NBA MVP odds table and see three players that Mitchell can jump with relative ease. Zion Williamson and Joel Embiid are walking injury risks; Kevin Durant captains a ship that could implode at any moment.
Williamson strained his hamstring which may very well leave him sidelined for a few games. Embiid, meanwhile, remains healthy – for now – but missed eight games on the season so far. Durant and the Nets are playing at a high level – 12-game win streak – but they’re difficult to trust overall.
What’s the Call On Donovan Mitchell’s MVP Odds?
Mitchell is enjoying a career year and will very likely lead the Cavaliers into the postseason. However, even if he advances to sixth on the board with “relative” ease, he still has an incredibly steep climb to make.
Of course, with a few more performances like he had on Monday night, those odds may shrink further. There are only so many 50-minute outings in the regular season, but Mitchell has 12 performances that earned an individual Game Score of 25-plus.
Ultimately, barring an injury that forces Mitchell to carry more of the load – Evan Mobley missed Monday’s game – he will very likely fall behind one of the aforementioned NBA MVP frontrunners.