2023 NBA Finals: Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler are MVP Favorites
Posted on: June 1, 2023, 11:12h.
Last updated on: June 1, 2023, 11:41h.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the betting favorite to win the 2023 NBA Finals MVP at -360, and Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler is the closest competition at +330 odds, according to DraftKings.
The NBA Finals tip off Thursday evening when the Denver Nuggets host the Miami Heat in Game 1 at Ball Arena. The Nuggets opened as an -8 favorite in Game 1, but the current point spread is now -9.
The Nuggets are the consensus favorite to win the NBA championship at -425 odds, and the Heat are the underdog at +320 odds.
|2023 NBA Finals MVP Odds|
|Michael Porter, Jr.||+10000|
As the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in seven games to secure a trip to the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets were the #1 seed in the Western Conference and swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals to reach their first NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic -360
Jokic won the regular season MVP in the last two seasons but was edged out this season by Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jokic is easily the best player on the Nuggets and has the ability to post a triple-double on any given night. He narrowly missed averaging a triple-double this season with 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game. He was ranked #2 in the NBA in rebounds and #3 in assists. Jokic is considered the best passing big man in the league and he’s able to use his height and ball-handling skills to find open teammates when he draws double teams.
During the 2023 postseason, Jokic caused mismatch problems for every opponent. He notched eight triple-doubles, which broke a record previously held by Wilt Chamberlain. He’s averaging a triple-double in the playoffs, with 29.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game, while shooting 47.4% from 3-point range.
During the conference semifinals, Jokic averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game against the Phoenix Suns. He dropped 53 points in a Game 4 loss.
Jokic is the consensus favorite to win the MVP at -360 odds because he’ll have to have a fantastic postseason if the Nuggets expect to win the championship.
Jimmy Butler +330
The prevailing sentiment is to back a team’s best player to win MVP because if that team wins the championship, then he’ll most likely win the NBA Finals MVP. The best value play for NBA Finals MVP is to wager on the best player from the underdog. In this case, that’s Jimmy Butler from the Miami Heat at +330 odds.
The Heat will ride or die with Butler. If “Playoff Jimmy” has a remarkable performance in the NBA Finals with super-human stats, then the Heat could pull off the upset and win the NBA championship as a #8 seed.
So long as Butler can remain healthy during the finals, the Heat have a shot to win a championship. Butler nursed an ankle injury already this postseason. The Heat’s magical run last postseason was thwarted by a knee injury, and even then, the Heat were a missed Butler 3-pointer away from reaching the 2022 NBA Finals.
Butler leads the Heat by averaging 28.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game in the postseason.
Fans caught a glimpse of super-human Butler in the opening round. Butler led the Heat to an upset over the #1 Milwaukee Bucks and might have directly caused head coach Mike Budenholzer to lose his job. Butler torched the Bucks for 37.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. He also shot 44.4% from 3-point range. Butler exploded for a franchise-high 56 points in Game 4 and lit up the Bucks for 42 points in Game 5 to clinch the series.
Butler is currently +330 odds to win the NBA Finals MVP. Expect his odds to narrow if the Heat can steal a win in either of the first two games in Denver to start the finals.
Jamal Murray +1400
If you’re looking to back a hot player, then Jamal Murray offers up tremendous value at +1400 odds. If you’re looking for an NBA Finals MVP candidate from the Nuggets who’s not Jokic, then Murray is your guy.
Murray has a reputation for being a streaky shooter. It can get ugly on nights he’s cold, but look out when he heats up. Murray is a true playmaker who can hit shots from any spot on the court. Jokic and Murray are known as the Nuggets’ one-two punch on offense, but when Murray catches fire, it’s more like a one-one punch.
Murray missed the last two postseasons while recovering from an ACL injury. He had a slow start to the 2022-23 season and looked rusty at times, but he finally looked like his old self in the second half of the season.
Murray averages 27.7 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game this postseason. He’s shooting 39.8% from 3-point range, and 92.5% from the free-throw line.
Murray posted five games this postseason in which he scored 34 or more points. He dumped 40 points and knocked down six treys against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 2 of the first round.
In the Western Conference finals, Murray dropped 37 points in back-to-back games against the Lakers. He posted a rare 50/40/90 shooting percentage by averaging 52.7% from the floor, 40.5% from 3-point land, and 95% from the charity stripe against the Lakers.
Caleb Martin +4000
Martin is playing out of his mind, and way above his pay grade. Then again, a team can’t win a championship without one of their role players stepping up with a sensational performance.
If you’re looking for a feel-good, rags-to-riches story, then you’ll love Martin. The small forward was cut by the Charlotte Hornets two seasons ago and nearly washed out of the league before he got a second chance with the Heat.
Martin now holds the modern NBA record for the highest scoring average in a conference finals from an undrafted player. He played his collegiate ball at Nevada, where he mostly gained attention for playing on the team with his twin brother, Cody. He failed to make an impression with NBA scouts as a “tweener,” someone who is in-between positions. In Martin’s case, he was an undersized forward and not as quick as the bigger guards in the league.
Martin averaged only 9.6 points per game as a role player in the regular season, but he’s played like an All-Star in the postseason. During the conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Martin averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 48.9% from 3-point range. He scored a career-high 26 points in a Game 7 against the Celtics to help the Heat secure a spot in the NBA Finals.
Martin is a long shot at +4000 odds to win the NBA Finals MVP, but emerged as the Heat’s second-most reliable scorer behind Butler this postseason.
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