Before the NBA regular season began, oddsmakers were busy making predictions. Sportsbooks repeated made one player the odds-on favorite to win MVP: Luka Doncic. It seems that fans—perhaps because of the influence of sportsbooks—have the same thought.
In a recent survey of SB Nation readers, the overwhelming majority think that the MVP is Doncic’s to lose. Over 30% of respondents say that the Dallas Mavericks’ star will take home the regular season’s highest honor.
After Doncic, the field takes second with just over 20%. Kevin Durant, who started the season like a man possessed, garnered 20% of the vote. Through his first four games, Durant is averaging 28.3 points on 52.2% shooting and 57.9% on three-pointers, 5.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning MVP clocks in at just over 10%. LeBron James rounds out the poll with under 10%—SB Nation readers clearly aren’t giving James the respect he says he deserves.
While Doncic may still be the favorite to win MVP when the season ends, he isn’t playing like one yet. His first handful of games have been a roller coaster of inconsistency. He admittedly entered training camp out of shape and is working his way back to his in-season conditioning. More worrisome is that he says that he isn’t in rhythm.
After a poor performance against the Charlotte Hornets, in which he was 4-10 from the floor and didn’t connect on any of his five three-point attempts. He was so disappointed in his performance that he returned to the court after the game to work on his shot.
He rebounded the next game against the Miami Heat. Flirting with a triple-double, Doncic tallied 27 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists. He shot the ball about the same as his last outing—40.9% from the field—but he was able to drop a few three-pointers during the game.
It’s a long season and Doncic entered it with a lot of pressure to be even better than he was in his sophomore effort. Being the MVP isn’t easy. It takes a degree of focus and physical and mental conditioning that most players don’t have.
Will Doncic take home the trophy at the end of the season? The fans think so. Doncic thinks he can too. Time will tell if he returns to the player he was in the bubble or something even better.