Nikola Jokic Is New MVP Betting Favorite After LeBron James Injury

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LeBron James’ ankle injury has reshuffled the NBA MVP odds boards. With the Los Angeles Lakers star forward out “indefinitely” with a high ankle sprain, most of the best NBA betting sites have installed a new favorite in the person of Nikola Jokic.

Jokic is having the best season of his NBA career. Denver’s Joker is averaging 27.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season. His Nuggets are 5th in the West and 8th in the entire league with a 25-17 record. If you compare records, LeBron’s Lakers (28-14) and Joel Embiid’s Sixers (29-13) are better but with both James and Embiid sidelined by injury, the best favorite is always the best one available.

New Betting Favorite

Dallas Mavericks’ sensation Luka Doncic was the preseason betting favorite to win the 2021 NBA MVP honors. Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid held that title for a while, right before the All-Star break and before getting injured. But for the majority of the 2020-21 NBA season, it has been LeBron James who has been on top of the MVP odds board.

Bet365, BetOnline, DraftKings, and William Hill took down their MVP odds overnight while waiting for a medical update on James. FanDuel and BetMGM made Jokic their +110 odds on favorite. PointsBet even made the Nuggets’ big man a bigger favorite at -110 ( bet $110 to win $100). When DraftKings reopened their lines, they also put Jokic at +110. James was next at +450 and Embiid third at +600. BetOnline and Bet365 have yet to put back their MVP odds boards as of Sunday afternoon.

It remains unclear how long James will be out but with the Lakers calling his absence “indefinite” for now, the online sportsbooks are betting that he will be on the shelf for a while.

Jokic meanwhile, continues his career season. He’s put up two triple doubles in two out of his last three games played and has scored 30+ points in two out of his last four. With the former frontrunners James and Embiid still out, there’s no question Jokic is the new favorite.

LeBron’s Quest for a 5th MVP Slipping Away?

LeBron James’ teams are 34-69 in his career when he does not play. The Lakers are 0-1 this season without him. The Lakers play their first game since the injury on Monday night in Phoenix and the early betting odds have the Lakers as +10 point underdogs against the Suns. Los Angeles couldn’t take care of the business against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, taking on the 27-13 Suns who are 14-8 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games would be a big task for Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, and Kyle Kuzma.

James’ injury isn’t just a big blow for the Lakers’ title retention bid, it also slows down his bid for a 5th MVP award. James had every reason to believe he was MVP last season when he led the Lakers to the NBA title. But the votes went to Giannis Antetokounmpo. This year, James was playing even better and was looking determined to prove himself.

But Saturday’s injury may have seen his MVP aspirations slip away. Or maybe not?

When Allen Iverson won his only MVP award, he missed 11 games due to injury. Bill Walton sat out 34 games but still won MVP honors in 1978. LBJ tweeted “back soon like I never left” which is a nice reassurance for Lakers fans. But for MVP betting, “soon” means different things to different folks. Right now, Nikola Jokic is the best bet for MVP.

Steve Richardson

Steve Richardson started writing content online in 2013 and has yet to slow down. Since joining our team at, he has covered sports, casino news, gambling laws, and much more! ...

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