Denver Nuggets

The NBA MVP Curse Is Alive and Well: Why you should fade Jokic & the Nuggets

Bettor beware. Before you dump your hard-earned cash on a futures bet for the reigning NBA MVP to win the championship, there's a worrying betting trend you can't ignore. The last four MVPs haven't even sniffed the Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals.

The Haunting Betting History of the NBA MVP Curse

The NBA MVP curse isn't some campfire tale, it's backed by cold, hard stats.

Here's the chilling reality:

Only three times since Tim Duncan won both the NBA MVP and championship in 2002-2003 has the regular season MVP lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

PlayerSeasonNBA Playoff ResultPre-Season NBA Championship Odds
Nikola Jokic2023-24?+450
Joel Embiid2022-23Lost Second Round 3-4 to Celtics+1400
Nikola Jokic2021-22Lost First Round 1-4 to Warriors+2200
Nikola Jokic2020-21Lost Second Round 0-4 to Suns+1800
Giannis Antetokounmpo2019-20Lost Second Round 1-4 to Heat+550
Giannis Antetokounmpo2018-19Lost Eastern Conference Finals 2-4 Raptors+10000
James Harden2017-18Lost Western Conference Finals 3-4 to Warriors+2150
Russell Westbrook2016-17Lost First Round 1-4 to Rockets+6000
Stephen Curry2015-16Lost NBA Finals 3-4 to Cavaliers+480
Stephen Curry2014-15Won NBA Finals 4-2 vs. Cavaliers+2800
Kevin Durant2013-14Lost Western Conference Finals 2-4 to Spurs+550
Lebron James2012-13Won NBA Finals 4-3 vs. Spurs+225
Lebron James2011-12Won NBA Finals 4-1 vs. Thunder+225
Derrick Rose2010-11Lost Eastern Conference Finals 1-4 to Heat+1400
Lebron James2009-10Lost Second Round 2-4 to Celtics+300
Lebron James2008-09Lost Eastern Conference Finals 2-4 to Magic+1000
Kobe Bryant2007-08Lost NBA Finals 2-4 to Celtics+3000
Dirk Nowitzki2006-07Lost First Round 2-4 to Warriors+400
Steve Nash2005-06Lost Western Conference Finals 2-4 to Mavericks+800
Steve Nash2004-05Lost Western Conference Finals 1-4 to Spurs+10000
Kevin Garnett2003-04Lost Western Conference Finals 2-4 to Lakers+1200

As you can see, recent NBA MVP team results in the playoffs aren't pretty.

Since Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the 2014-15 season, no NBA MVP has managed to win the NBA Championship in the same year. Only Curry and Lebron James have even managed to take home both trophies over the last 20 NBA seasons.

These are the who's who of 21st-century NBA greatness. Many of the players on this list also find their names on the NBA's Top 75 Greatest Players of All Time. In fact, a few of the above-mentioned basketball titans will go down in NBA history as true basketball nobility. However, each of the last eight MVP victors has failed to lift the championship trophy. Only Chef Curry in 2015-16 even made it to the NBA Finals. In recent times, the outlook for the Most Valuable Player's team has been even worse.

Recent MVP Heartbreak

The last three seasons paint a disturbing picture. Each of the last four NBA MVPs has failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs.

Last season, Joel Embiid put together a monstrous campaign, averaging 33 points per game and leading his Sixers to 54 wins. However, Philadelphia was toppled in seven games by Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics.

In 2022, Nikola Jokic led a high-powered Nuggets squad in the playoffs, looking to dispel the losses of years past. Unfortunately, Jamal Murray blew out his knee before the season. The Nuggets drew a terrible matchup with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Denver was outgunned, outmanned, and ultimately eliminated in five games.

The year before that, Jokic led the Nuggets to a 4-2 first-round victory over Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. Their reward was a matchup with Chris Paul and the red-hot Phoenix Suns, who promptly swept Denver.

Finally, in 2020 Giannis was fresh off of his second straight MVP award. He was a physical marvel, averaging a monstrous 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game. Yet, the Bucks couldn't translate his greatness into a championship and were soundly beaten by the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble.

These results raise a crucial question: are MVP award winners simply regular-season beasts on stacked teams who underperform in the playoffs? Or is there a genuine curse at play? A look further back through NBA history proves this is a fresh trend. Only three times in the modern era between 1972-79, 2004-2011, and 2015-present has there been an eight-year span in which the MVP has failed to win an NBA Championship. While it hasn't recently occurred, the trends say that sometime in the next few years, an NBA MVP will lead his team to glory. However, the odds are against this being the year.

Fading the MVP

So, what does this mean for your next NBA futures bet?

With Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in an almost insurmountable 0-2 hole against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mike Malone's merry band are +490 underdogs in their series and have plummeted to +1700 in the latest NBA Championship odds.

You can now find Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves to win the series 4-1 at +470 odds, and 4-2 at +320. As the above table displays, only four NBA MVPs in the past 20 seasons have even managed to push their series to a deciding seventh game, providing excellent value on the Timberwolves series correct score odds.

Another recent betting MVP trend has emerged. Other than last year's Boston Celtics, who lost to the Miami Heat in a seven-game Eastern Conference Final slugfest, each of the previous five teams to defeat the reigning MVP has advanced to the NBA Finals. Minnesota is now the favorite to win the Western Conference, but based on the trends are an interesting play at -110 odds.

Keep an eye on this NBA betting trend for next year, and remember to fade the NBA MVP in the playoffs.

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