The Most Important Matchups and Best Bets for Tuesday’s NBA Slate
Tuesday features a small NBA slate. There are just two games to choose from, and both get underway at 9 p.m. ET. One game features the Thunder vs. the Nuggets, while the other features the Pelicans vs. the Jazz.
With only two games to focus on, we can zero in on one of the league’s best players. Nikola Jokic has fit that description for a while now, but he’s taken another step forward in 2021. He’s currently listed at +800 to win the MVP on FanDuel Sportsbook, making him one of the favorites to win the award. Just how good has he been this season?
Let’s dive in.
Jokic has an extraordinary skill set for a big man. He’s currently averaging 25.0 points and 11.4 rebounds per game – both of which would be new career highs – but what truly separates him from other big men is his ability as a passer. His 10.3 assists per game ranks second in the league this season, which puts him on-pace to average a triple-double. Only Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook have done that over the course of a full year, and both of those players are point guards. Jokic being able to do it would be an extraordinary accomplishment.
As impressive as his numbers are, they probably undersell how good he’s been. The Nuggets rank third in the league in terms of Offensive Rating this season, averaging 117.26 points per 100 possessions. Almost all of that production comes from Jokic. The Nuggets have increased their Offensive Rating by +17.2 points with Jokic on the court, which puts him in the 98th percentile for all players per Cleaning the Glass. They’ve also increased their effective FG% by +10.5%, which ranks in the 99th percentile. Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal are the only other players who have been that important to their team’s offensive success this season.
Add it all up, and Jokic leads the leagues in a variety of advanced metrics: PER, Win Shares, Value Over Replacement Player, and Box Score Plus/Minus.
So why is Jokic still +800 to win the MVP? I’m not sure, but you should probably grab that number while it’s still available. The only thing that’s holding him back at the moment is the Nuggets’ record, but they look like a prime positive regression candidate moving forward. Their expected record of 8-5 means they’ve been unlucky to win just six games this season.
We’ve seen some notable line movement for tonight’s contests.
The Nuggets are one team that appears to be a sharp target. The betting tickets in that game have been split essentially right down the middle, but the Nuggets have received 66% of the spread dollars. That means most of the sizable bets have sided with Denver, which has caused the line to move from Nuggets -9.0 to Nuggets -10.0 on FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Nuggets could also benefit from addition by subtraction without Michael Porter Jr. He has been a disaster defensively this season, and the Nuggets have allowed an additional +16.0 points per 100 possessions with Porter Jr. on the court this season. Their defense should be improved in this contest just by him being unavailable.
BEST BETS FROM THE SPORTSGRID BETTING MODEL
Find out who our betting model likes in both of tonight’s contests.