The NBA MVP Award is More Open Than It's Ever Been

Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA MVP award is starting to evolve, as it no longer has to go to the top player on the top team record wise in the NBA.

And that's a good thing.

Prior to the 2016-17 season, 30 of the last 31 MVPs came from a team that was either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in its respective conference. However, now that we have even more information than ever to really understand a player's importance to his team, the NBA has award two MVPs in the last five seasons to players who finished fourth or worse in their conference.

That's progress.

This isn't to say that record shouldn't matter, but two of the top MVP candidates at WynnBET Sportsbook, Nikola Jokic (+280) and Luka Doncic (+2000) are outside the top four in the West, and they likely won't be able to sneak into a top two seed by the end of the regular season.

That used to be a red flag for bettors, but now there is precedent that could help Jokic or Doncic win the award. Both players have been extremely impactful this season, and I've discussed at length how much having Jokic on the floor matters to Denver's success this season.

While Doncic doesn't have the same net impact as Jokic, he is bordering averaging a triple-double this season with 27.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game. Since he returned from an ankle injury on Jan. 2, the Mavericks have gone 18-7 in the 25 games that he's played in.

Joel Embiid is the rightful favorite at this point in the season, and if the Philadelphia 76ers finish with the top spot in the East, it may cement him as the MVP. However, that doesn't mean that there is more parity than ever for this award.

Ja Morant, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and DeMar DeRozan all have odds shorter than +1500 as well, showing that there are a number of players that can make a case over the season's final month and a half.

Doncic or Jokic may not come away with the award this season, but there is a way to craft a narrative and statistically back up their importance to their respective teams. If the voters start looking past more than just team success for this award, don't be surprised if one of these two players is crowned the league's MVP.