You may have missed the news while spending Valentine’s Day with your lover, or while being focused on the Daytona 500, but the NBA MVP race (and maybe the NBA Finals picture) suddenly took a quick turn.
After dealing with soreness in his lower calf for the last several weeks, Anthony Davis left Sunday’s 122-105 loss to the Nuggets after re-aggravating that same injury.
Now all Lakers’ fans can do is hold their breath with hopes that the injury is not serious enough to sideline Davis for a long length of time.
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 15, 2021
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 15, 2021
The apparent soreness in Davis’ calf region conjured up memories of Kevin Durant’s attempt to power through a similar injury in the 2019 NBA Finals, before ultimately tearing it completely in Durant’s first game back from the injury in Game 5 of the Finals.
They really allowed Anthony Davis to play on a sore Achilles.
Someone on the Lakers medical staff needs to be fired.
— Guru (@DrGuru_) February 15, 2021
And while the injury could have serious implications for the Lakers’ title hopes should the injury prove to be one that threatens to end AD’s season, the presumptive favorite for MVP (some guy named LeBron James) could very well see his MVP case strengthen mightily should the 36-year-old superstar have to put the Lakers on his shoulders.
As we enter the middle of February, LeBron now finds himself as a 2-1 favorite to win his 5th career NBA MVP award, with Sixers’ Joel Embiid (+480), and Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (+500) rounding out the Top 3 of the newest batch of NBA MVP odds from our friends at FanDuel Sportsbook.
A big reason that Giannis Antetokoumpo edged out LeBron for his second-consecutive NBA MVP Award a season ago is that voters were split on who exactly was the #1 player from the eventual NBA Champions.
With Davis out of the lineup, that answer may get much clearer in the coming weeks, and with the media firmly behind the narrative that LeBron James is the best player in the world (a hard argument to dispel at this point), that again only strengthens LeBron’s case to win the MVP.
Should LeBron eventually be named the league’s Most Valuable Player, it would not be an award given out as a defacto ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, as King James has been absolutely incredible this season scoring nearly 26 points a game while chipping in eight rebounds, eight assists and nearly 40-percent accuracy from three-point land.
LeBron is doing this while, once again, showing he is one of the most durable athletes to ever play the game as he’s averaging nearly 35 minutes a night in his 18th NBA season.
With Anthony Davis on the sidelines for the foreseeable future (and we hope he returns sooner than later because the game is just a lot more fun with Anthony Davis in it), LeBron will be tasked with trying to keep the team with the league’s second-best record afloat.
Embiid, Jokic Continue to Battle for Second-Best MVP Odds
The last center to bring home the NBA MVP award was none other than Shaquille O’Neal 21 years ago. And while the NBA still is very much catered to guys that can shoot the ball from any place on the floor, the 2020-21 NBA Season has been a renaissance of sorts for the center position.
That’s because Philly’s Joel Embiid and Denver’s Nikola Jokic have been spectacular to begin the 72-game abbreviated season.
Embiid is averaging nearly 30 points and 11 assists per game while having the 76ers with the best record in the Eastern Conference, while Jokic is averaging a career-best 26.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and nearly nine assists per game for the 2020 Western Conference runner-ups.
Should LeBron James show signs of being mortal, and the Lakers begin to rack up more losses with Anthony Davis out of the lineup, do not write off one of these dynamic centers from ending the two-decade drought of being shunned in the NBA MVP race.
Only Russell Westbrook has achieved this feat in NBA history.
Can Nikola Jokic join the Brodie in this exclusive club? 👀 pic.twitter.com/BZgv0LX9Qo
— Nuggets Nation (@NuggetsNationCP) February 11, 2021
Joel Embiid leads the NBA with a 31.2 PER
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) February 12, 2021
Steph Curry Finally Cracks Top Five; Doncic Slips to Sixth
Preseason NBA MVP frontrunner Luka Doncic continues to slide down the NBA MVP odds board this week as the 21-year-old Mavericks’ star now has the sixth-best odds to win the MVP award at (+1100).
Luka’s chances have dropped and it has not had much to do with his play on the floor, but rather his teammates who have struggled at the start of the season and currently have contributed to the Mavs’ slow start to the season at 13-15.
Meanwhile, former two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry (+1000) has been a one-man army in the bay area and is the primary reason the Warriors find themselves above .500 and in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.
Steph has been absolutely ridiculous in the month of February, posting 36 points a game while chipping in five rebounds and assists per night.
On two separate occasions in a month that’s just two weeks old, Steph has hit more than 10 threes in a game, putting him on a mountaintop that no one can stake claim to being anywhere near.
In NBA history, the most games with
5 threes : Stephen Curry (238)
6 threes : Stephen Curry (136)
7 threes : Stephen Curry (80)
8 threes : Stephen Curry (52)
9 threes : Stephen Curry (28)
10 threes : Stephen Curry (17)
11 threes : Stephen Curry (9)
12 threes : Stephen Curry (2) pic.twitter.com/CqFvxRggd9
— Antonin (@antonin_org) February 12, 2021
Steph Curry has been extremely efficient with his shot 💯 pic.twitter.com/cMR2uOtUtB
— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) February 15, 2021
The last time ‘Chef Curry’ was this locked in, Curry brought the Dubs their first NBA title in 40 years. It’s a shame that Klay Thompson is not around to cause as much chaos from three-point range or this Warriors team would be a bonafide title contender once again.
Nonetheless, don’t discount Steph’s chances at making this MVP race mighty interesting in the coming weeks.
Here’s how the rest of the board shakes out entering the week of February 15.
NBA MVP Odds as of February 15, 2021
|Player||Odds to Win|
|LeBron James (LAL)||+200|
|Joel Embiid (PHI)||+480|
|Nikola Jokic (DEN)||+500|
|Kevin Durant (BKN)||+850|
|Stephen Curry (GSW)||+1000|
|Luka Doncic (DAL)||+1100|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)||+1300|
|Damian Lillard (POR)||+3000|
|Kawhi Leonard (LAC)||+3600|
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||+4600|
|James Harden (BKN)||+4600|
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