Luka Doncic blew up all of his MVP value barely a month into his second season.
If you see the Slovenia-born 20-year-old ever open at 50-1 to win the NBA’s top individual honor, one of two things will be true: The Dallas star will either be sidelined for the majority of the season, hoping to come back against all odds, or those that set the number have collectively gone mad and will next hop over the counter and start dispensing $100 bills.
Doncic was at 40-1 to win MVP when the regular season opened. But he's now just 5-2 (+250) at the Westgate SuperBook after continuing a remarkable run by leading his Mavericks to a 137-123 upset of the Rockets on Sunday.
Doncic is zoning out before everyone’s eyes and doing so repeatedly, generating debates over whether he can continue doing this for the remainder of the season. By “this” we’re talking averaging 34.8 points, 10.8 assists and 9.8 rebounds like he has through the team’s winning streak that they embarked upon by beating defending champion before dominating in Houston, leading from start to finish and going up by as many as 22 points.
Doncic isn’t among the league’s best athletes, but before he has even turned 21 or made his first All-Star appearance — both things will happen in February — he’s become one of the NBA’s most dominant players.
Doncic is not raw. He’s a veteran who came to prominence playing with grown men in Spain before he could barely shave. He’s only going to get stronger. Things will always look like they come this easily to him because they do. Doncic, undeniably a savant, ranks second behind only reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (2-1) of the Bucks as far as Westgate’s MVP odds go. Harden is 3-1 despite leading the league in scoring and LeBron James is 6-1 after a fabulous start that has him leading the league in assists for the first time in his storied career.
No one should be questioning whether Doncic’s name belongs in that company. That’s why you’ll never see 50-1 again. It’s also why there isn’t much value in hopping on the Luka MVP train this late in the game. The grind will likely get to a Mavs squad that is arriving as a contender way ahead of schedule and isn’t built to sustain a high level over the long haul just yet.
Getting Latvian 7-foot forward Kristaps Porzingis comfortable playing off Doncic and finding more pick-and-roll partners and shooters to benefit from his heady decision making and all the attention he receives will be essential to turning Dallas into a title contender going forward, but the Bucks, Lakers, Clippers and even the Rockets all have MVP-caliber leaders who will likely lead their teams to better records.
It took James and Antetokounmpo into their sixth season to win an MVP. I’m betting Doncic beats that time frame easily, but don’t expect it to be this year. That said, if you have a ticket with his name for MVP, I’m rooting for you out of respect for your prescient nature. Now for some wagers I do expect you to win, I’m serving up a Thanksgiving week trio.
Celtics at Nets: While there are no games on Thursday, the NBA is treating its die-hards to an early treat on Friday morning, forcing the Celtics to play the Nets in a game that will tip-off just after noon Eastern. Look for a groggy effort from both since Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving have been dealing with injuries, so we’re all in on the under in this one at Barclays Center. UNDER
Hornets at Bucks: Charlotte should flourish against a team that operates at a fast pace but often lacks the efficiency to make tempo work for them. As a result, they’ll likely get blown out given the Greek Freak’s current form. Expect to lay about a dozen points and hopefully not have to sweat out a backdoor cover in a game Milwaukee should win by 20. BUCKS
Wizards at Clippers: Washington will be visiting Staples Center and you can expect a high-possession game heavy on volume 3-pointers. After scoring 134 points against New Orleans to close out this past week, look for L.A. to play another high-scoring game against Washington. Ride the “over” and expect the number to be in the mid-230s. OVER
Last week: 2-1