You could hear them chanting as he raced off the court, the visiting supporters showering Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with accolades after a 42-point performance highlighted by a game-winning triple: “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
It’s uncommon for rival team fans to act as the Wizards fans did on Wednesday. It’s even more unusual to see a guy like Gilgeous-Alexander on the receiving end while playing for a team that will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
It makes no difference. The chorus is becoming louder, not only in the rafters of Capital One Arena but throughout the league.
Could Gilgeous-Alexander earn the NBA‘s most coveted award?
Here are the MVP odds for 2022-23 and this list includes many known players
NBA MVP odds for 2022-23 (via BetMGM)
Giannis Antetokounmpo +250
Luka Doncic +275
Jayson Tatum +500
+1000 to Joel Embiid
+100 Stephen Curry
Ja Morant +1400
Kevin Durant +2000
Donovan Mitchell +2200
Nikola Jokic +3000
Devin Booker +4000
Damian Lillard +4000
Trae Young +5000
Zion Williamson +5000
Pascal Siakam +5000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander +5000
Could Shai Gilgeous-Alexander be named NBA MVP in 2022-23?
Just a month ago, the Thunder guard was valued as high as 500/1 in certain shops before the season. Despite his incredible start, he was still listed as a 150/1 long shot at most books early this week.
Fast forward to Thursday, after finishing off a career performance with yet another crucial shot, and he’s down to 50/1 at BetMGM – a near-consensus price throughout the market. And the stats reflect the narrative of one of the league’s most important players through the first month of the season.
SGA enters Thursday’s action ranked third in scoring (32.3 PPG), shooting 54.8% from the field, 40% from deep, and 90.6% from the free-throw line.
Stephen Curry in 2015-16 was the only player in NBA history to average 30 points with 50/40/90 splits over an entire season.
Gilgeous-Alexander also has the highest field-goal % by a guard averaging 30 or more points in NBA history, as of Thursday. Right behind him? Michael Jordan averaged 30 points per game on 53.5% shooting in three different seasons and was named MVP in two of them.
That’s how crazy Gilgeous-Alexander has been as a scorer, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s scored at least 37 points in four of his past five games and has scored at least 32 points in nine of his last 13 games, shooting 50% or better in each.
That, however, is only half of the story. Oklahoma City’s all-star is also averaging 5.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game while ranking fourth in steals (1.9) and 12th in blocks (1.4).
The only player to average such numbers in a season?
Jordan in 1987-88, when he earned MVP.
The most significant issue working against Gilgeous-Alexander is the same one that obscured his candidacy in the first place: his supporting cast.
With apologies to Josh Giddey (and Luguentz Dort on a good night), the Thunder’s relative dearth of quality led oddsmakers to peg the team at just 26.5 wins before the season began.