Odds & Ends: MVP, Pelicans-Jazz, Jokic, DFS

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic dribbles upcourt during a game against the Mavericks.

With so many players missing time due to postponed games and load management, gauging the league’s MVP race is a unique task.

Luka Doncic (+300) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (+500) began the year as co-favorites and they’re both atop oddsmakers’ leaderboards. Kevin Durant (+650) shook off concerns over his comeback from an Achilles injury to supplant himself in the conversation but there’s another preseason darkhorse who’s rising in the ranks.

Nikola Jokic may be the clear-cut leader in the race if it weren’t for the Nuggets’ record. It’s rare for a player to take home the MVP when their team isn’t a top seed in the conference (Russell Westbrook during his first triple-double season remains an outlier). However, if Denver can climb the Western Conference ranks, those bearish on Jokic for the award will be few and far between.

The big man is putting up monster stats yet again and he’s making opposing defenders pay when they opt to double him. Jokic is tied with Kawhi Leonard for most doubles in the post this season, per Matt Moore of The Action Network, and the Nuggets center is tied for the league lead in points per possession in that scenario.

Jokic is averaging a full assist (10.3 vs. 9.3) more than Doncic this season, leading the league in that category. He’s averaging a triple-double and leads the league in player efficiency rating. Care about steals? Only three players (Larry Nance Jr., OG Anunoby, Jrue Holiday) have more swipes per game than the big man.

Jokic (+700) is a stat-darling—arguably the top overall fantasy player in any format and he’s looking like a shoo-in to be in the top three of most MVP ballots at the end of the season. Though, if the Nuggets can turn it around, he’ll be a slam dunk winner of the award.

[Bet Jokic for MVP risk-free at PointsBet]


More NBA Odds & Ends

  • If you go away from Jokic in DFS on Tuesday night, Steven Adams could be a nice play. While the presence of Rudy Gobert may intimidate most, from a fantasy perspective, Utah hasn’t been great defending the center position. Over the last two weeks, only four teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing fives, per Hashtag Basketball.
  • Zion Williamson‘s usage rate continues to climb, now sitting at 28.4 % on the season. He has a difficult matchup with Utah (only Denver allows fewer fantasy points to power forwards). Still, he should be able to overcome the increased attention that the Jazz place on defending fours.
  • Derrick Favors is probable to play on Tuesday. The big man played through his knee ailment on Sunday vs. the Nuggets, seeing just 15 minutes.
  • Joe Ingles could return to the lineup tonight after missing the last four games. He’s questionable with an Achilles injury.

About the Author

Chris Crouse
As a co-owner of FortyEightMinutes.com, Chris Crouse wears many hats, including editor and marketing director. He previously covered sports business at CNBC and he has covered the NBA for various publications, including SLAM Magazine and Hoops Rumors, in addition to working on the business side of media.

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