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Sportsbooks view Nikola Jokic as 'a lock to win his 3rd-straight MVP'

Sportsbooks view Nikola Jokic as 'a lock to win his 3rd-straight MVP'

Only three players in NBA history have won back-to-back-to-back Most-Valuable-Player awards: Larry Bird (1984-1986), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) and Bill Russell (1961-1963).

That legendary club may add another member in a few months, as it’s seeming more and more likely that Nikola Jokic will take home his third-straight MVP award this season. 

Early in the season, there was a new MVP front-runner every month. In October, Luka Doncic had the best odds. In November, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the favorite. In December, Jayson Tatum narrowly took the lead. Initially, it seemed that Jokic would have a tough time winning the award due to voter fatigue.

However, in early January, Jokic became the odds-on favorite to win the award, and he hasn’t looked back since. And over the last month, his odds have only gotten better.

Jokic's odds are now at -163, meaning he has a 63.6% implied chance of winning the MVP award, according to OddsChecker. The next-best odds belong to Joel Embiid, who is a +390 (or a 20.4% implied chance of winning).

The sportsbooks are clearly high on Jokic, but bettors also view him as the MVP favorite. Over the last seven days, 43.8% of all MVP bets were placed on Jokic. The second-most bets were placed on Antetokounmpo, accounting for 22.9%.

“The books have Jokic as a lock to win his third straight MVP – something only Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell have ever done,” OddsChecker spokesman Kyle Newman said.

“If the Nuggets fall short of an NBA title, Jokic would become the first to do it without winning a title during those three seasons. Considering the Nuggets have +800 odds to win the NBA title, fourth-best in the league, that’s exactly what the books expect to happen.”

Here’s a look at the latest odds in the NBA’s Most-Valuable-Player race:

The Jokic love lines up with the results of ESPN’s latest NBA MVP Straw Poll (which dropped today). ESPN asked 100 media members to share their current MVP ballot and Jokic was the runaway leader, receiving 77 of 100 first-place votes and 913 total points. To put Jokic’s lead in perspective, the runner-up was Antetokounmpo, who received just 11 first-place votes and 552 total points.

Jokic is averaging 24.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 10.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks, while shooting a career-high 63.2% from the field, 39.1% from three-point range and 82.2% from the free-throw line.

Jokic's advanced stats show just how dominant he's been; he currently leads all NBA players in statistical categories including win shares (11.3), win shares per 48 minutes (.318), box plus/minus (+13.2), value over replacement player (6.6), player efficiency rating (31.8), assist percentage (47.3%) and defensive rebound percentage (31.6%). He's also posting a career-high 70.3% True Shooting percentage, ranking second in the NBA.

The 27-year-old has led the Denver Nuggets to the best record in the Western Conference (41-18), and the second-best record in the NBA (trailing only the 42-17 Boston Celtics). Denver has the league's top-ranked offense, scoring 115.7 points per 100 possessions. 

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