DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic frequently notes that he is not in this thing for the purpose of winning individual honors. It's all about an NBA title.
"I don't really care about MVP,'' he'll say. "What's important is championship, and obviously, that's our goal this season.''
But if the Mavs are ever good enough to win that trophy? It'll likely be due to the fact that Luka is good enough to win that trophy.
It is a "campaign,'' whether Doncic likes it or not. And in a sense, the campaign begins on Wednesday night, with a visit to Charlotte. (Click here for GAMEDAY). Yes, it's just a preseason game. But it is the pivotal preseason game, as new coach Jason Kidd has deemed it a "dress rehearsal.''
Tonight, the Mavs will attempt to look like the Mavs.
Luka will attempt to look like Luka.
And anybody who cares about who should be considered a serious contender for the MVP trophy will be paying at least some attention.
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Over the course of the summer, for the 2021-22 season, what we called the way-too-early betting odds from DraftKings Sportsbook had Doncic slated as the favorite to take home the honor.
As was recently listed, Doncic (+400) is the favorite to win the award with Joel Embiid (+700), Kevin Durant (+800), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800), and Stephen Curry (+800) all round out the top five.
In an NBA season marred with injuries to countless notable players, the race for the 2021 MVP felt just as much about health as it did about impact on the court.
That's not to say that Nikola Jokic was not well-deserving because he certainly was. Leading a team to the third seed in the Western Conference while posting averages of 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists is incredible.
Doncic was the favorite to win the 2021 NBA MVP prior to the start of this season. The Mavericks' slow start may have shoved him down a few notches in the minds of voters.
No, it's not Luka Doncic's priority to get their attention. But for Mavs watchers who care about the MVP race? The "garnering of attention'' can start tonight.