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Ja Morant MVP Odds & Grizzlies Futures: Worth Backing Now?

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

Mark Strotman  | 10 mins

Ja Morant MVP Odds & Grizzlies Futures: Worth Backing Now?

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Apologies to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, but the best NBA betting story in 2022 resides in Memphis. The Grizzlies, who combined for 55 wins in 2017 and 2018, are on pace for 56 wins in 2022 behind the stellar play of Ja Morant.

The All-Star starter has transformed the Grizzlies from a lottery team in 2018 to a playoff hopeful in 2020 to a legitimate title contender in 2022. Memphis’ NBA odds and Morant’s odds to bring home some end-of-the-season hardware, of course, have shrunk considerably on betting sites since the start of the season.

With Ja and the Grizzlies heading to Madison Square Garden for a Wednesday night showdown with the Knicks, New York sports betting fans specifically are going to want to keep an eye on the league’s most electric guard and the team he’s taking to the top of the Western Conference standings.

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Ja Morant In Running For MIP and MVP

He was beginning to show signs of stardom late in his second season, but no one was expecting what they’ve seen from Ja Morant so far this year. He’s leading the way for the Grizzlies, averaging 26.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.8 assists through 40 games. The two other players in the NBA currently averaging 26-6-6? LeBron James and Nikola Jokic.

So it’s no surprise that Morant is absolutely running away with Most Improved Player honors. He’s currently -340 on betting apps over the likes of Charlotte’s Miles Bridges (+650) and Darius Garland (+1100), and it’s difficult to see those odds doing anything but shrinking as the season moves on.

With Most Improved Player all but wrapped up, it’s time to consider whether Morant can enter the NBA MVP conversation. His odds have shortened all the way down to +1100, putting him behind the likes of Joel Embiid (+200), Jokic (+300), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+400), and Steph Curry (+400).

That’s a tall order to pass four giants, but consider that Morant has only gotten better as the season has progressed:

  • October/November: 24.1 points, 6.8 assists
  • December: 26.5 points, 6.2 assists
  • January: 29.1 points, 7.1 assists

If he continues to improve on those numbers into February and March, he very well could be a sneaky choice to earn MVP honors on the NBA futures market. Remember, the Grizzlies are the league’s best story and Morant is the one leading the charge. MVP is often a narrative-driven award by media members. Morant absolutely checks the box there.

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Grizzlies a quiet NBA title contender

Regular season success doesn’t always equate to postseason performance, and oddsmakers still might not be sold on the youthful Grizzlies. Despite their 56-win pace and touting the sixth-best net rating in the league, Memphis is +3000 to win the 2022 NBA Finals, with nine teams in front:

TeamNBA Title Odds
Brooklyn +250
Golden State +475
Phoenix +550
Milwaukee +700
Miami +1300
Utah +1400
Philadelphia +1900
LA Lakers +1900
Bulls +2200
Grizzlies +3000

Odds via DraftKings and accurate as of publication. New York bettors should check out our DraftKings NY page for the latest promos.

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Is there value there? Well, the West is absolutely loaded and touts the three best teams in the NBA in terms of net rating (Warriors, Suns, Jazz) and that’s not taking into account that the Lakers could be a Round 1 opponent for a title hopeful.

But consider this: Since beginning the season 9-10, the Grizzlies are an NBA-best 26-8 with a league-best +9.1 net rating. They have the NBA’s best defense and the No. 9 offense. And in that 26-8 stretch, they’re an impressive 10-3 against the nine teams ahead of them in the title odds. Memphis is legitimate. There’s no getting around it.

Jaren Jackson Jr a DPOY long shot?

Remember that NBA-best defense that Memphis has boasted since Thanksgiving? If Morant gets the credit on offense, Jaren Jackson Jr. must get the credit on the other end. The talented forward has become a blocking machine over the last two months, averaging 2.7 blocks over his last 25 games. Anchoring the league’s best defense has long been a recipe for earning Defensive Player of the Year honors. Here’s a list of the last five winners and where their teams ranked in defensive efficiency:

  • 2021: Rudy Gobert, Jazz (3rd)
  • 2020: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (1st)
  • 2019: Rudy Gobert, Jazz (2nd)
  • 2018: Rudy Gobert, Jazz (1st)
  • 2017: Draymond Green, Warriors (2nd)
  • 2016: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs (1st)

Because of the Grizzlies’ slow start—they ranked dead last in efficiency up until Thanksgiving—they’re just 8th in defensive efficiency this season but have been the NBA’s best for two months. If they keep it up, they should be able to get into the top-4, and Jackson would be a big reason why. His +1200 odds at FanDuel are something to keep an eye on and consider.

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About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports betting journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports. He regularly provides NBA betting picks, as well as in-depth sportsbook reviews and the latest promo codes for all the major sports gambling operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and more.