Nikola Jokic is now a top contender for NBA MVP (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- Nikola Jokic put in one of the best performances of his career as the Nuggets beat the Jazz on Sunday
- Jokic moves up second favorite to win NBA MVP at odds of +440
- Will the Nuggets win enough games for Jokic to win the award?
The Utah Jazz could not stop Nikola Jokic on Sunday. Jokic took the game to Rudy Gobert, scoring 47 points in what was Denver’s best performance of the season to date. In response to his dominant Sunday night outing, The Joker’s NBA MVP odds have shortened.
FanDuel now have Jokic as the second-favorite to win the award, behind LeBron James.
Having improved to 12-8 with the weekend win, the Nuggets are up to fourth in the Western Conference. Is Jokic a good bet for MVP?
2021 NBA MVP Odds
Odds taken on Feb 1 from FanDuel
Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert matchups are always fascinating. It’s the game’s greatest offensive center against the supposed defensive king. Jokic’s recent record against Utah is phenomenal, and he put in his best performance of the lot on Sunday. Utah mixed up their Jokic matchups, but whoever they put on him, the result was the same. Jokic hit all four of his three-point attempts in a 17-for-26 effort from the field, and pulled down 12 rebounds. He registered a couple of steals, five assists and a block for good measure.
Against a team riding the longest winning streak in the NBA, Jokic put in a true MVP performance. He was spectacular from tip-off. This came just two days after putting up 35 against the Spurs, and it extended his historic streak of double-doubles to start a season.
Jokic’s last five vs. Gobert and Utah going back to last year in the playoffs.
29.4 PPG, 9 RPG, 8 APG. https://t.co/9nNRhd25jU
— Josh Eberley🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) January 31, 2021
The Joker is 11th in scoring. He’s 6th in rebounding and fifth in assists per game. While he’s no longer averaging a triple-double, his numbers remain sensational. Only OG Anunoby and Larry Nance Jr are registering more steals per game, and his 65.6% true scoring is good for 16th in the NBA, ahead of Kevin Durant and only just behind Joel Embiid.
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Serious MVP Case
The MVP odds have been volatile so far this season. Each of the contenders have jumped around with a big game or two. This reaction to Jokic’s Sunday gem is no surprise – it may seem like an overreaction, but it’s more of a correction for perhaps underrating his MVP candidacy prior to his 47-point masterpiece.
47 Pts, 12 Reb and 5 Ast for Nikola Jokic against the Jazz today 🔥
One of the leading MVP candidates? pic.twitter.com/eurEr8yztV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 31, 2021
Embiid and Durant are in the mix, but both are missing considerable time for what is effectively load management. Jokic is yet to miss a game, and his 35.8 minutes per contest is by far the most of any center. While Luka Doncic was a preseason favorite, the Mavericks’ struggles have severely undermined his candidacy. The Warriors are unlikely to be good enough for Steph Curry to stand a real chance.
It’s LeBron James’ award to lose at this stage, but it’s fair to put Jokic as his nearest challenger.
It’s rare to see MVP given to a player on a team outside the top five or six in the league. Jokic will need to do something unprecedented (like Russell Westbrook did) to win MVP if Denver are outside the top four in the West. The Nuggets moved into the top four with their win on Sunday, but there are still questions about their defense – can they be a top four team if their defense ranks in the bottom ten?
Nikola Jokic is the 2nd center to put up 25+ PPG, 10+ RPG, 5+ APG, 55+ FG% in a single month since 1983.
The other center (min 10 games)? Nikola Jokic in February 2020. pic.twitter.com/ywv8GRp2N5
— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 1, 2021
There are a few teams around the NBA with elite offenses and below-average defenses. Denver fall into that category, though hope can be taken from their +5 net rating (which is good for fifth in the NBA). Mike Malone will also take some faith from their defensive numbers in January – the Nuggets ranked 11th in defensive rating over the last month.
If they can keep that up over the next few weeks, Denver should comfortably be a top four seed. Jokic’s path to MVP becomes a lot more straight forward.
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.