LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 22: Denver Nuggets Forward Nikola Jokic (15) looks on before a NBA game between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers on December 22, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- Nikola Jokic’s odds to win NBA MVP improved following news that teammate Jamal Murray will undergo knee surgery
- Jokic is the only player in the league who is in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists
- A look at MVP odds for Jokic and the other contenders can be found below
If it’s at all possible, Nikola Jokic has just become even more important to the Denver Nuggets – and the oddsmakers have noticed.
Jokic’s odds to win NBA MVP improved from -167 to -195 immediately after the news dropped Tuesday morning that Nuggets points guard Jamal Murray will require surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. Murray will miss the rest of the regular season and likely the entire playoffs.
Thus, Jokic will need to be as good as ever in trying to help the Nuggets reach the Finals and become the first MVP in franchise history.
2021 NBA MVP Odds
|Player||Odds at FanDuel|
|Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)||-195|
|Joel Embiid (76ers)||+300|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)||+1200|
|James Harden (Nets)||+1200|
|Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)||+1800|
|Luka Doncic (Mavericks)||+1800|
|LeBron James (Lakers)||+2100|
|Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)||+10000|
|Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)||+10000|
|Stephen Curry (Warriors)||+10000|
|Chris Paul (Suns)||+13000|
|Jaylen Brown (Celtics)||+13000|
|Jayson Tatum (Celtics)||+13000|
|Kevin Durant (Nets)||+13000|
|Devin Booker (Suns)||+19000|
|Jimmy Butler (Heat)||+19000|
|Kyrie Irving (Nets)||+19000|
|Russell Westbrook (Wizards)||+19000|
Odds as of April 13th
Jokic Now an Even Heavier Favorite
Jokic was already the odds-on favorite to win his first MVP before Murray was injured Monday night late in the Nuggets’ 116-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
Jokic is 10th in the NBA in scoring with 26.2 points a game. He is also eighth in rebounding (10.9) and fourth in assists (8.8). Jokic is the only player who ranks in the top 10 in each of the three categories.
Nikola Jokic this season:
Only Russ and Oscar have averaged 25/10/8 in a season. Jokic will be the first one to do it on 55% shooting. pic.twitter.com/vzQ8OABNGU
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 10, 2021
Furthermore, Jokic is 13th in steals (1.46) and 14th in field goal percentage (56.5%). He has also posted 14 triple-doubles and 48 double-doubles. His durability is also top notch, as he’s played in all 54 games and averaging a career-high 35.4 minutes.
The advanced statistics love Jokic, too. He leads the league with 11.8 win shares and his 30.9 player efficiency rating is second only to the 31.1 of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid.
Nuggets Try to Hold Serve
The Nuggets are in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 34-20 record, though they have lost back-to-back games on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) April 13, 2021
With 18 games left, the Nuggets’ chances of getting a higher seed are not good. They have some ground to make up if they are going to catch the Utah Jazz (40-14), Phoenix Suns (38-15) or Los Angeles Clippers (34-20).
The Nuggets are also holding off trying to hold off the Los Angeles Lakers (33-21), Portland Trail Blazers (31-22) and Dallas Mavericks (29-24) for the No. 4 spot. The top four teams will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
2021 NBA Championship Odds Tracker
Life Without Murray
Murray is second on the Nuggets in scoring with a 21.2 average to go with 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game. He is large part of why Denver is fourth in the NBA in offensive rating and Jokic will likely to be asked to pick up a decent part of the scoring slack in his absence.
The Nuggets have gotten a preview recently of what life without Murray will be like. Before being injured against the Warriors, Murray sat out four games in a row because of soreness in his other (right) knee.
Jamal Murray was helped off the court after an apparent knee injury with 50 seconds left against the Warriors. pic.twitter.com/sz7akzOiq4
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2021
With Murray sidelined, the Nuggets went 3-1 while playing all four games at home. They beat the Detroit Pistons then won a two-game series against the San Antonio Spurs before losing to the Boston Celtics.
The competition was not strong, though. Only one of those three teams has a winning record, and the Celtics are barely over .500 at 28-26.
The Nuggets averaged 112 points in that stretch. Their season average is 114.9, so their offensive production did not fall off by much.
Joker Can Handle the Load
The Nuggets made it clear at the March 25 trade deadline they are trying to win it all after a surprise run to the Western Conference finals last year.
They acquired forward Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic and backup center JaVale McGee from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The addition of the pair came a day before the Nuggets went on their nine-game winning streak.
Jokic and Aaron Gordon’s chemistry > pic.twitter.com/dvjJUBC3ea
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 7, 2021
Rookie Facundo Campazzo started in three of the four games Murray recently missed. The Nuggets also have Monte Morris available to play the point.
Yet while the Nuggets are deeper, Jokic remains the guy who makes them go. As he has shown this season with both his traditional statistics and advanced metrics, The Joker is up to task of carrying the team.
So, Jokic is still the MVP favorite and deservedly so.
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.