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Nikola Jokic had a chance to win three straight regular-season MVP awards this season, but in one of the more controversial races in recent memory, Jokic ultimately lost the award to Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Jokic was favored for much of the season, but after months of debate that touched on everything from Jokic's place in history to the role race plays in awards voting, he ultimately ceded the top spot to Embiid in March and April.

We all know what happened next. Embiid got knocked out of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion. Jokic won his first championship and became the first player in NBA history to lead a postseason in points, rebounds and assists. Any lingering questions about Jokic's worthiness as an MVP is gone. He is the best player in the league.

Vegas agrees. Caesars Sportsbook has released early odds for next season's MVP award, and Jokic is in pole position less than a day after winning the title. Here are the 10 leaders entering the 2023-24 season:


Nikola Jokic


Giannis Antetokounmpo


Luka Doncic


Joel Embiid


Jayson Tatum


Kevin Durant


Stephen Curry


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


Devin Booker


LeBron James


While Jokic has won two MVP awards, he has never opened a season as a favorite. Doncic has opened the season in the top slot over the past several years, but with Kyrie Irving's future uncertain, it just isn't clear who he will be playing with next season. Antetokounmpo is in a similar position with both Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez hitting unrestricted free agency. Embiid, the reigning winner, opens the race in fourth place, but he, too, has roster questions. James Harden is a free agent this offseason and many expect him to join the Houston Rockets.

After the prime superstars, we have a group of older legends. Durant, Curry and James have won seven MVP awards between them, but all three will be at least 35 next season. That matches the oldest MVP in NBA history, which was Karl Malone in 1999. Historically, younger players have fared better. That makes a compelling case for Gilgeous-Alexander and Booker, who are just hitting their primes and should have better supporting casts next season.

Jokic has value simply because he never gets hurt and is likely to receive a ton of early action at this number, but otherwise, it probably makes sense to wait until the offseason plays out before actually picking candidates that have value. There is so much roster uncertainty around the league right now that Jokic's place in the race is probably the only guarantee going into next season.