NBA Three at 3: Betting on MVP, Defensive Player of the Year & Rookie of the Year

The NBA regular season is coming to an end and that means that player awards are starting to come into focus more than ever. While a lot of those awards seem completely set in stone, there are quite a few that are still worth betting on. With that, we're taking a look at some of those with today's Three at 3: 

1. Most Valuable Player 

Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic have been battling it out for the NBA's MVP award for a majority of this season, and it seems as though Jokic is beginning to run away with it late. The best odds you can find on the Serbian to win the award right now are -275, and that's somewhat surprising at this point. Jokic is likely looking at back-to-back MVP awards, but it's not out of the question that Embiid surpasses him. There's still four games left in the regular season and it's not out of the question that Embiid, who is averaging 30.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game, will lead Philadelphia to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, it's still not a lock that Denver will avoid the Play-In Tournament. If the Nuggets slide all the way to seventh, it's going to be hard for voters to look beyond that — even if Jokic's supporting cast is one of the worst in basketball. For that reason alone, Embiid at plus-money is probably the best bet when looking at this race. 

THE PICK: Joel Embiid (+300)

2. Rookie of the Year 

For three quarters of the NBA season, it seemed as though this award was going to Evan Mobley. The Cleveland big man is still a heavy favorite to win, with his best odds available being -238. He is, however, out at one of the most important times of the year, and the Cavaliers are sliding in the standings. One of Mobley's strongest selling points for this award was how much he impacted winning, but Cleveland is now looking like a team that will be in the Play-In Tournament. And if the Cavaliers somehow miss the playoffs entirely, it wouldn't exactly help his case. Meanwhile, Scottie Barnes is one of the key rotation players for a very good Toronto Raptors team and Cade Cunningham has been playing his best ball of the season over the last few weeks. It wouldn't be shocking if either one of them ended up stealing this award, but Cunningham represents some great value. You can still find him at +1000 and he averaged 30.5 points per game in meetings against the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets last week. Doing that type of work on such a big stage is the type of thing that sits front and center in the mind of a voter at the end of the year, and that really makes him worth taking a flier on. 

THE PICK: Cade Cunningham (+1000)

3. Defensive Player of the Year 

The Defensive Player of the Year race is as open as any in the league, with Marcus Smart, Mikal Brides, Bam Adebayo and Rudy Gobert all having real chances to win. Smart is the current favorite in the race, but Bridges actually represents the best value on the board. The Phoenix Suns have been the best team in basketball all season, yet they don't have a true MVP candidate. Devin Booker is considered by some to be an MVP candidate, but he doesn't actually have many people in his corner. Voters could ultimately use that as a reason to vote for Bridges, as they'll want to give at least one player on Phoenix some flowers. Bridges doesn't have the best advanced stats in the world on the defensive end, but he guards the opposing team's best player every single night. Sometimes that means he's guarding players that are much quicker or stronger than him, but it never actually matters. Phoenix can count on him every night, and there are many that believe he is the best wing defender in basketball. 

THE PICK: Mikal Bridges (+390) 

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Sixers star Joel Embiid
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Sixers star Joel Embiid is looking to steal the MVP award with just four games left.
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