When the Denver Nuggets lost Jamal Murray to a torn ACL, it put a significant dent in their ability to make a long playoff run.
On the bright side, it allowed Nikola Jokic a chance to all but lock up an MVP award.
The Nuggets have played three games since losing Murray. In the first, Jokic had a triple-double in a win. In the second, he put up 29-16-7 in a win. Then on Monday night, Jokic had a phenomenal 47-point, 15-rebound, 8-assist game and lifted the Nuggets to a double overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Monday night’s game is the type of performance that stamps an MVP case.
Jokic’s MVP odds at BetMGM keep getting shorter, and for good reason.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic had a huge game to lift his team to a win over the Grizzlies. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Nikola Jokic is big MVP favorite
Jokic’s odds to win MVP are all the way down to -300 at BetMGM, and it’s hard to see anyone catching him.
Steph Curry has had a monster April and got some MVP chants in Philadelphia on Monday night. Curry has a case, but Jokic’s season-long dominance probably edges him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed some games and the Milwaukee Bucks have been underwhelming. Joel Embiid has had a great year too but it will be hard for him to pass Jokic, especially after missing 18 games. LeBron James was on track to win before a high-ankle sprain. James Harden’s recent injury absence probably ends his case.
The odds at BetMGM indicate it’s down to Jokic or Embiid, and Jokic is miles ahead.
(BetMGM screen shot)
Curry might be worth a shot, as he gets more attention for his torrid 3-point shooting streak. But it might be a waste, because Jokic is in clear control.
Jokic nearly averaging a triple-double
Jokic is close to averaging a triple-double this season, which is remarkable for a center. He is averaging 26.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. He’s a great free-throw shooter (85.4 percent), a threat from 3 (a solid 41.9 percent 3-point shooter) and the offense can run through Jokic because he’s a great passer.
Jokic wasn’t among the top few preseason favorites to win MVP. He was between 20-to-1 and 30-to-1 at various sportsbooks before the season started. The Nuggets have never had an NBA MVP winner. Spencer Haywood won an ABA MVP with the Denver Rockets back in 1970, and that’s it. The Nuggets’ history didn’t indicate Jokic would overtake James, Antetokounmpo, Curry, Luka Doncic and everyone else to win an MVP. The Nuggets aren’t a marquee franchise, so it’s not like Jokic was going to be on TNT or ESPN every night. Also, very few big men like Jokic have won the award recently. Not that there are many bigs who play like Jokic.
But after Monday night’s phenomenal performance against the Grizzlies, it will be hard to deny Jokic for the NBA’s top award. He has earned it.
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Published: 2021-04-20 14:54:37
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