When one thinks of Kings of the NBA, LeBron James is probably the first player that comes to mind. While understandable, Giannis Antetokounmpo has quietly been the King of the MVP odds–reigning as the favorite for over two years. That reign came to an end this week, as SportsBetting.com published their 2021 MVP odds, coming with a surprise at the top. Enter Luka Doncic, kingslayer, record breaker, and new MVP favorite:
The ascension of Doncic may come as a surprise to some–after all, though Luka has impressed, the 21 year old hasn’t been incredibly efficient or proven his record in the playoffs. The oddsmakers aren’t blind to this. Rather, they believe in the power of narrative. If you’ve ever wondered why LeBron or Jordan didn’t win the MVP during all of their prime years, narratives are the answer. Karl Malone played consistently well during the 90’s with little individual recognition, so when the media became tired of voting for MJ, he became the MVP. Russell Westbrook only led his team to a 47-35 record, but because he was recently spurned by Kevin Durant, the voters happily handed him the least deserving MVP of the last 20 years.
Doncic has an almost ideal profile for an MVP narrative. He has the element of novelty on his side–the fact that he’s so young means that he’s virtually immune to voter fatigue. He also clearly has the stats to justify votes. Luka put up 29/9/9 in his sophomore season and led one of the best offenses in NBA history. However, the real key to the Doncic MVP narrative is that he represents a shift in how NBA Basketball is played. As a 6’7″ de facto point guard, Doncic is a great representative of the ‘Unicorn Era’– marked by a gluttony of larger players with guard-like playmaking skills. Just as Stephen Curry was recognized for his pioneering from beyond the arc, the media will jump at the chance to recognize Luka as one of the key innovators of his time.
If you’d like to put money down on some of the underdogs, allow me to suggest a few. Jayson Tatum has a very similar narrative going for him, and if Brad Stevens decides to center the Boston Offense around the fourth year Duke product, he could put up major numbers. Kevin Durant is also a tempting option at 10-1. If he’s able to lead the Nets to a high seed, it’s very possible that his redemption narrative propels him to the top of the MVP ballot. Should you desire a true deep sleeper, look no further than Devin Booker (+3500). If the bubble Suns were any indication, Phoenix has serious playoff aspirations in the upcoming season. As the unquestioned leader of the Suns, Booker will reap the benefits should he somehow carry them to one of the higher seeds in the West. With a supporting cast around him that is tailor made to complement his strengths, I can think of many worse ways to take a shot to win big.
The play: Bet 25 dollars on Doncic, 10 bucks on Durant, 4 dollars on Tatum and 3 dollars on Booker. That’s four shots at 100 dollars, for an approximate total of 2:1 odds.
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