2020-21 NBA MVP Odds: Does Jokic Have Sleeper Value?
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Nikola Jokic.
There’s so much we don’t know about next NBA season, from its start date to the cap structure. However, that uncertainty also means the instability is ripe for the picking if you want a futures bet for an indeterminate amount of time.
PointsBet has posted early odds on MVP for the 2020-21 season. Here’s a look at the odds and some thoughts:
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||+350 [BET NOW]|
|Luka Doncic||+500 [BET NOW]|
|Stephen Curry||+600 [BET NOW]|
|LeBron James||+700 [BET NOW]|
|James Harden||+800 [BET NOW]|
|Anthony Davis||+900 [BET NOW]|
|Kawhi Leonard||+1200 [BET NOW]|
|Kevin Durant||+1400 [BET NOW]|
|Jayson Tatum||+1400 [BET NOW]|
|Joel Embiid||+2500 [BET NOW]|
|Nikola Jokic||+3000 [BET NOW]|
|Damian Lillard||+3000 [BET NOW]|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||+5000 [BET NOW]|
|Kyrie Irving||+6000 [BET NOW]|
|Jimmy Butler||+6000 [BET NOW]|
|Trae Young||+6000 [BET NOW]|
|Jamal Murray||+8000 [BET NOW]|
|Devin Booker||+8000 [BET NOW]|
|Donovan Mitchell||+10000 [BET NOW]|
|Russell Westbrook||+10000 [BET NOW]|
|Paul George||+10000 [BET NOW]|
|Zion Williamson||+10000 [BET NOW]|
|Ben Simmons||+10000 [BET NOW]|
|Chris Paul||+15000 [BET NOW]|
|Pascal Siakam||+15000 [BET NOW]|
|Brandon Ingram||+20000 [BET NOW]|
|Kyle Lowry||+25000 [BET NOW]|
|LaMelo Ball||+25000 [BET NOW]|
LeBron James’ war on the MVP is likely to pay dividends next season, just not for himself. Antetokounmpo is the favorite but will have a hard time collecting votes. As good as he’s been, there will be both a fatigue effect with the “Greek Freak” after collecting back-to-back MVPs and resistance to rewarding him after two postseason failures.
The award is for the regular season, but voters who are typically centered on an objective analysis will be persuaded by the narrative of other candidates.
I’m not in on James, either. LeBron was phenomenal this season, and I’m not doubting his ability to replicate it next season with another year on him. However, the Lakers will have the championship hangover, and if the season begins in January — of which I’m skeptical — then the Lakers will have just two months of rest before the regular-season slog begins again.
There are also diminishing returns for James putting in that kind of effort. It was an emotional, confusing and difficult season that culminated in his fourth title. A little bit of coasting and effort management is at least likely enough to not buy in on him now.
Hard pass on Harden as well, for now. We have no idea what style the Rockets’ new coach is going to bring to the table, whoever that ends up being, but you have to assume it will be different from Mike D’Antoni. Harden’s numbers also dipped last year next to Russell Westbrook and he had a sustained bad stretch — his first in several years — in late January. It’s not entirely clear if this is Westbrook’s team or Harden’s. Too much instability.
Doncic is the first player I would really look at. The narrative is strong because he has made the Mavericks better than preseason expectations in consecutive seasons. He came up big in the first round vs. the Clippers. He has small improvement areas to discover which will boost efficiency. (He’s going to be a monster at drawing fouls next year.)
The Mavericks will most likely be without Kristaps Porzingis to start the season, an absence that will seem big but won’t actually hurt their winning percentage too much. Dallas has some moves to make to improve Doncic’s supporting cast. Getting 5-1 odds for him, all things considered, is good value.
I’m in on the Warriors’ title odds and their over for win percentage, so I might as well go in on Curry to win MVP, too. At 6-1, the implied odds are 14.9%. Is there a better than 15% chance that the two-time MVP returns to 2015 form, let alone 2016?
Why would Curry fall from being the best shooter on earth? Why would Curry’s stats not stand out in the MVP race with an offense more firmly reliant on him with the departure of Kevin Durant?
If Curry hits 400 3-pointers or more, which is very doable, with 5.0-plus assists, which is very doable, he’ll have the whole analytic community going gaga over his gravity again. His narrative as the Comeback Kid will be strong. Curry plays for an attractive franchise with a strong media presence. The pieces are there.
Jokic at +1400 is probably the most stable long-odds offer on the board. If Michael Porter Jr. progresses as expected and Jamal Murray carries over in 80% of his playoff leap, the Nuggets are likely to win 55-plus games. Another top-three finish in the Western Conference, combined with momentum from this year’s playoff success, plus Jokic’s usual impact shapes up nicely for him to carry votes.
Let me put it this way: If the Lakers, Clippers, and Warriors load-manage, the Nuggets should get the 1-seed, and that would go a long way. There aren’t offseason questions to navigate with Denver and Jokic’s production should take a jump this season without having summer international obligations to wear him out.
If you want to bet pure narrative, bet Durant at +1400. Yes, he’s coming off a torn Achilles. But he’ll have had 18 months of recovery time. The best player to come back from an Achilles tear was Dominique Wilkins, who returned to All-NBA play.
Kevin Durant is better than ‘Nique.
If the Nets get the top seed in the Eastern Conference next year (with who knows what to expect from the Bucks), the power of K.D. overcoming that injury will be powerful. The Nets may not be good enough, but K.D. definitely is, even after the injury.
- Pass on Damian Lillard. Portland’s supporting cast isn’t good enough and they have few options to significantly improve.
- Pass on Embiid and Simmons. The Sixers have to prove it to you first, and you’ll see signs early in the season that they’ve actually turned some sort of corner under Doc Rivers when their odds will still be long.
- Pass on Jimmy Butler. It’s not Most Valuable In One Out of Every Three Games Player.
- The longest shot? Jayson Tatum. There’s enough of a skill curve for him, combined with his defensive acumen, which is underrated, and if Boston upgrades their frontcourt in any meaningful way, the Celtics will be back to top-two seed status in the East.