Nikola Jokic on a path towards immortality


Nikola Jokic doesn’t have time for your “narrative” arguments against his quest for a third straight NBA MVP. He’s too busy putting up historic numbers that simply can’t be ignored.

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The two-time reigning award winner has once again seized the top spot on the MVP oddsboard, dealing as the odds-on favorite (-105) at BetMGM to win his third award in as many seasons. If that holds, he’d join Bill Russell (1960-63), Wilt Chamberlain (1965-68), and Larry Bird (1983-86) as the only players in NBA history to pull off such a feat.

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NBA MVP betting odds via BetMGM (150/1 or shorter)

Nikola Jokic -105
Luka Doncic +400
Jayson Tatum +700
Joel Embiid +800
Giannis Antetokounmpo +1000
Ja Morant +3000
Kevin Durant +3500
Stephen Curry +4000
Donovan Mitchell +5000
LeBron James +10000
Zion Williamson +15000
Damian Lillard +15000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander +15000

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets accepts the 2021 NBA MVP award
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets accepts the 2021 NBA MVP award
Getty Images

Jokic favored to win 3rd straight NBA MVP

Jokic’s latest bid for the NBA’s top individual award comes despite the chorus before and even during the season arguing that voters wouldn’t have the appetite to reward the Nuggets star for a third straight season – even if his resume warranted another trophy on the shelf.

Sure enough, numbers speak louder than words. Entering Monday, Jokic is averaging a ridiculous 25.1 points, 11 rebounds and 9.9 assists – the most by a center in NBA history – all while shooting an absurd 62.6% from the floor. He’s also getting it done on the defensive end, ranking 15th in the league in steals per game (1.4) and leading the league in defensive box plus-minus (4.3) for the top-seeded Nuggets (33-14).

Speaking of which, Jokic’s advanced stats – which were a key pillar to his previous two MVP campaigns – once again tell the story of the best player in basketball.

Denver’s do-it-all center is the runaway leader in win shares (9.2), box plus-minus (13.1), PER (32.4), value over replacement player (5.2) and just about any other metric you could throw out there. He’s somehow doing it all despite ranking outside of the top 25 in usage rate (27.9%), which is a testament to just how much he’s impacting the game even without the ball in his hands.

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We highlighted Jokic’s preposterous resume a month ago, when he was still dealing as a 5/1 dark horse after a historic triple-double on Christmas Day. He’s since turned it up a notch: dating back to that contest, he’s averaging 25.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 11.2 assists with eight triple-doubles in 13 games, including three straight entering the week.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Jokic is running away with this year’s MVP award in a similar fashion to last year’s when tired arguments about the “narrative” of another Jokic victory were overshadowed by his sheer statistical brilliance. This race isn’t necessarily over, thanks to an impressive field behind him, but it’s clear that Jokic is in the driver’s seat to make history with arguably his best season to date.