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MVP Watch: Jokic the Betting Choice

The betting lines for NBA MVP have been up since the summer, with shifts both major and minor occurring along the way. It seems to have settled for now, but there’s just enough time for an injury, a slump or a hot streak to alter the landscape.


Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets waits for a free throw during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on February 12, 2024 - Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (-160)

It’s his award to win (for the third time) now that Joel Embiid, his perennial combatant on this front, is out of the mix.

Jokic is 13th in the NBA in scoring, fourth in rebounds and fourth in assists, an absurd combination of stat-stuffing that very few can come close to matching. What’s great about him is that he adjusts game to game and season to season to suit the needs of his team. His scoring is up this season while his assists are down slightly from 2022-23, when he passed more and shot much less than the previous season, when he had a career high in scoring and distributed it less than the season before, when he won his first MVP while averaging at least eight assists for the first time.

Need a more micro example? Jokic has scored in double figures in 16 straight, all since he had a season low-tying four points against Detroit on Jan. 7. What else did he do against the Pistons? How about 16 assists – a season high for a home game – and a career high-tying five blocks in just 24-plus minutes (taking only three shots along the way).

The sportsbook leans very heavily on Jokic, and there are many good reasons why.


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder (+280)

This might be one of those situations where wins and losses can have a big effect. The top of the Western Conference is quite jumbled, with Oklahoma City and Jokic’s Denver team both in that mix. If by chance the Thunder get some separation and perhaps claim the No. 1 seed, all while Gilgeous-Alexander continues to do his thing, some voters will swing that way.


— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) February 14, 2024

And who could blame them? Gilgeous-Alexander figures to finish second to Luka Doncic on the scoring charts and he’s running away with the steals category. If you’re a basic human being and know that the goal in a basketball game is to score on one side and stop the other team from scoring on the other side, then a premier points/steals guy might sway you at the polls.

And, perhaps, it will alter the outlook for some of you checking out future odds NBA bettors need to see.

Throw in the fact that Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t surrounded by a ton of established veterans who know how to navigate an NBA season. There’s plenty of talent in OKC, but Gilgeous-Alexander HAS to carry them.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+600)

He’s definitely on the outside looking in, and the Bucks just don’t seem to have it right now. But things can change. The fact that Milwaukee is not quite at the level of Denver or Oklahoma City right now means that it has room to improve, and if Giannis Antetokounmpo can put his Bucks on his back for the final two months, maybe some things shift.

It’s not like he’s having a down year. In fact, many of his numbers are better than they were when he won his back-to-back MVPs. There’s just something missing and Giannis will need to rally the troops to turn voters – and those doing some online betting– his way.

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Questions Of The Day


Are there any longshots that can make a late run?

Luka Doncic is lurking but the Mavericks probably need to get into the top six to get him more attention. Another strong stretch by Kawhi Leonard could make him a late-season factor.

Who on the NBA odds sheet is a surprise based on where we were early in the season?

The fact that Boston’s Jayson Tatum isn’t getting a ton of buzz is somewhat unexpected. Many tabbed him as a favorite alongside Jokic and Embiid to begin the campaign.

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