The 2020-2021 NBA season is in full swing! With all teams hovering around the 10-game mark, let’s check the pulse of the MVP market. Odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook on Monday, January 11.
It’s still too early to make sweeping conclusions about the season. However, there is something to be said for the fact that many teams are easing into this one given the abbreviated training camp, unique schedule, and quick turnaround from last year.
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Joel Embiid is off to a hot start, averaging 24.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 blocks in just 32.3 minutes per game through eight games for the 76ers, whom are 7-3 atop the Eastern Conference.
The 26-year-old is now 10-1 to win the NBA MVP per DraftKings, as only Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Durant have shorter MVP odds.
In the Western Conference there were four-and-a-half games separating the No. 1 seed (Lakers) and the No. 15 seed (Grizzlies) on Monday.
I find there have been some curious shifts in odds after the first few weeks of play, especially when considering that some teams are still playing themselves into shape. With some slow starts based on expectations, there is value to be had in the MVP market. Here are a few that stick out at their current number.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets (+1200)
Denver had a deep run in the bubble, losing in the Western Conference Finals to the Lakers, and some considered the Nuggets as a possible regression candidate.
Well, there has been no hangover for Denver’s best player, Nikola Jokic.
It’s a 10-game sample, but the Joker is averaging a triple double for the year and sniffing the league lead in assists. He is averaging 24.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 10.4 assists, less than one behind James Harden for the league lead in dimes.
Denver is 5-5, but the Nuggets have proven that they are a contender in the West following last season’s playoff performance. I expect wins to start flowing in and the Jokic MVP narrative to grow. A big like Jokic taking home the assist title would definitely warrant some serious consideration for MVP.
As teams still look to find its footing this season, betting Jokic is a smart way to buy low on the Nuggets to climb towards the top of the Western Conference standings.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (+1200)
There was a lot of speculation around how James would approach this season. After capturing his fourth title in the bubble last October, many expected the Lakers to take it slow with an abridged offseason.
That doesn’t appear to be the case. James has played in all 11 games for L.A. this season and while his numbers are not as gaudy, they are still fantastic. James is averaging 24 points, over eight rebounds, and seven assists while leading the Lakers to the best record in the league.
With some sloppy play across the NBA early on, the Lakers continuity and apparent motivation could see them go wire-to-wire with the best record in the league.
There is always going to be a narrative around James suffering from voter fatigue, but he has not taken home the award since 2013. This could be the year voters pay their respects to LeBron and give him the nod if no one pulls away with it.
LeBron was +700 preseason to win the award, and I can’t follow why he has dropped considerably after a great start.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (+1400)
Curry’s number has moved again after dipping from his preseason number of +1000.
Since getting Draymond Green back in the lineup, the Warriors have been able to unlock Curry much more easily. Curry gets a championship winning veteran to help make plays alongside a young and reckless supporting cast that held the Warriors back early on.
I’m highlighting Green, but Curry has begun to remind people why he is in fact the two-time MVP. He went for 62 two Sundays ago in a win over the Blazers, and dropped 38 in a come from behind victory over the Clippers last Friday.
Steph’s path to his third MVP would be the Russell Westbrook case from a few years ago, carrying an under qualified team to the postseason with gaudy stats and numerous highlights.
A playoff berth and another handful of scoring barrages like the aforementioned two will put Curry firmly in the mix for his third MVP. He has value right now at +1400.