NBA

NBA MVP Odds: Is Nikola Jokic Out of Reach?

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath•@ffaidanmcgrath
NBA MVP Odds: Is Nikola Jokic Out of Reach?

The 2023-24 NBA regular season is entering its final stages. Regular season play ends on April 14th and most teams have close to 10 games remaining on their schedule.

Denver Nuggets star and former two-time MVP-winner Nikola Jokic appears to be making room on his shelf for a third MVP award trophy. Can anyone loosen his anaconda-like grasp on the award in the finals weeks of the season?

Let's take a look at FanDuel Sportsbook's NBA MVP Betting Odds market to see if the market thinks anyone can pull off the upset.

NBA MVP Odds

Player
Team
Current Odds
Previous Odds
Nikola JokicDenver Nuggets-1100-230
Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderOklahoma City Thunder+1000+330
Luka DoncicDallas Mavericks+2200+800
Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks+9000+2000
Jayson TatumBoston Celtics+10000+4800

Nikola Jokic (-1100)

In the weeks since our last check-in, Nikola Jokic has been totally locked in. The Denver Nuggets are 15-2 since the February All-Star break with their 2 losses coming by a combined 12 points.

They look like a force to be reckoned with as the playoffs draw closer, which has helped them seize the lead in the Western Conference; their 51-21 record puts them a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder while former contenders to the top seed like the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves have started to slow down.

A conference title might make Jokic's case for a third MVP crown unimpeachable. He once again looks like the best, most unstoppable player in the league, and he's pulling off that feat while casually creating absurd highlight reel plays other players couldn't dream of making.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1000)

Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had been doing a good job of keeping up with Jokic down to the final month of the season, but his odds to win a first MVP title are getting longer and longer as time passes. His +330 odds to win from late February have since spiked up to +1000.

That said, it still seems like the budding superstar has a fighting chance at winning the award this season. It will have to start with the Thunder overtaking the Nuggets in the Western Conference and Northwest Division. According to FanDuel Sportsbook's odds, the Nuggets are -440 to win the Northwest Division while the Thunder trail them at +500. Overcoming those kinds of perceived odds would be a major boon to SGA's case.

They'll need to go through something of a gauntlet to get there as well. The Thunder still have games remaining against elite teams like the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks and the surging New Orleans Pelicans. Gilgeous-Alexander would need to play some MVP-caliber ball to put his Thunder on top of the Western Conference up against that schedule.

Recency bias is a real phenomenon and could factor into this year's MVP race. Jokic didn't spend all year as the frontrunner, and Gilgeous-Alexander still has time to make an incredible impression over the final few games of the season.

Luka Doncic (+2200)

Jokic is once again playing at an MVP level, and Gilgeous-Alexander is fighting tooth and nail down to the wire, yet Luka Doncic is trailing behind them while averaging more points per game (34) than any MVP-winner since Bob McAdoo's winning season back in 1974-75 (34.5).

It goes without saying that the MVP award isn't just handed to the guy who scored the most points per game each year, but Doncic's feats this year -- including his absurd 73-point night against the Atlanta Hawks back in January -- are keeping his name afloat in the MVP race.

Unfortunately for Doncic, his individual accomplishments haven't translated to as many wins as his counterparts this year. Even with the Dallas Mavericks' recent 8-1 run, they're still just seventh in the west with a 42-29 record.

There may be some seasons where stats like Doncic's could win him an MVP even on a subpar team, but that's probably not this season. His points (34), rebounds (9), and assists (9.9) per game stack up favorably against Gilgeous-Alexander's (30.5 / 5.6 / 6.3), but his 10.5 win shares pale in comparison to his Thunder counterpart's 13.9 mark.

True Underdogs

Giannis Antetokounmpo (+9000) and Jayson Tatum (+10000) have seen a dramatic hit to their odds to win the MVP award since our last check-in, but their names are still worth mentioning.

Antetokounmpo notably has been playing some top-notch ball recently, which doesn't seem to be reflected by his odds. His Bucks recently tagged Gilgeous-Alexander's Thunder with a loss in a game where the former two-time MVP logged 30 points and a whopping 19 rebounds. He has now surpassed Gilgeous-Alexander for most points per game (30.7) and trails only Doncic in that regard.

Even with Giannis' herculean efforts, the second-place 46-25 Bucks still trail the Celtics' league-best 57-15 record by a massive margin. The Celtics have been the winningest team in the league, and Jayson Tatum has been their best player. His individual stats have been strong -- even if they don't compare favorably to most of his MVP-hopeful peers. That said, the best player on the best team in the league is worth MVP consideration more often than not.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.