The MVP in any sport is an interesting award. By definition, it is supposed to be awarded to the Most Valuable Player in the league, however there is no true statistical measure of that. To some voters and fans, that means the player most vital to the overall success of a team. To others, that generally ends up being the most prolific offensive player. In my opinion, the award should go to the player whose individual success drives the team forward, not the guy with the highest points per game.
HOWEVA (Stephen A. Smith voice) I am not the one who votes or decides how people vote. That said, let’s take a look at some of the superstars in the NBA, their current MVP odds before the season starts and the picks that have the best potential of robbing your bookie blind.
THE TOP 5 ODDS
LeBron James +333
This is an obvious pick. LeBron, simply put, is a god. While he has the highest odds of winning, picking LeBron to win MVP is never a bad bet. Last year, his 15th season, he didn’t miss a game and dragged a team that had mediocre talent on it’s best night to the Finals. As LeBron heads out to the Lakers, he joins a team that can either put out three young, high-upside guys around him (Ball, Ingram, Kuzma) or four guys who may be the most deserving four teammates to ever get a reality show (McGee, Rondo, Stephenson and Beasley). Either way, LeBron has talent around him, no signs of letting up and is in a great position to take a non-playoff team last year and make them serious contenders in the West. While there are plenty of other teams in the West that are tremendously talented, none of them have LeBron.
Anthony Davis/Giannis Anteteokunmpo +450/+500
These two guys are the two biggest monsters in the NBA. Both big guys have the ability to do pretty much whatever they want on the basketball court and are already stars. They are both on the cusp of going to the next level of “holy shit how are these guys even possible” and are the clear focus of their respective teams. While their teams don’t appear to be in serious, deep run in the playoffs contention, it is hard to expect anything less than stellar seasons for either of them. I think Giannis being in the East, and thus having substantially less competition, makes him a better MVP candidate to just eat up all the stats and dominate the league/his conference.
James Harden +650
Last year’s MVP sits amongst the guys with the top 5 odds despite not playing close to a minute of defense. Harden’s offensive abilities are undeniable and he helped carry the Rockets to the Conference Finals last year only to be eliminated by the Warriors. I think repeating as MVP is never easy, especially given where the league is right now with talent and competition. To expect Harden to have a similar, if not better, season this year is a very tall task. Given the fact that 3’s do count more than 2’s and he certainly takes a lot of both, he may just get the stats to get back to the top of the MVP race.
Kawhi Leonard +950
Kawhi is a risky pick since no one on the planet knows what this guy is right now. He is two years removed from a 3rd place finish and three years removed from a 2nd place finish in the MVP race, however was limited to 8 games last season and has been one of the bigger enigmas in what is otherwise pretty open league. His improved offense over the previous few seasons adds to his already other-worldly defensive abilities. Maybe he bounces back big time and takes the East by storm. Maybe he demands a trade out of Toronto and sits out the year. This is one of the more interesting bets out there.
Now some quick hitters on the guys with the next best odds…..
Steph Curry +1200 – It’s hard to think that after 4 straight trips to the finals, he’s got the legs under him to play a full season given his injuries. Better to rest him during the regular season so he is fresh for the playoffs.
Joel Embiid +1500 – Embiid has all the talent in the world, but his injuries keep him from playing every night. Is he an MVP caliber player? Yes. Will he win it this year? No.
Russell Westbrook +1600 – Westbrook averaged a triple-double two years and won MVP. He did it again last year and didn’t win. You can see where this is trending.
Ben Simmons +2500 – I think we are a few years early on his MVP but Simmons is going to be an even bigger superstar than he is now. I think by the time he retires, he has one, but not just yet.
Donovan Mitchell +2500 – Last year’s Rookie of the Year is also a few years away from seriously contending for MVP. Fun to watch, not worth the bet I don’t think.
Damian Lillard +3500 – An interesting case in that he may be trying to showcase just how good he is for a trade to a contender. He has carried the Trailblazers the past few years with some truly special play. However, their window to win has clearly passed and this may just be his swan song in Portland. I don’t think he has a real shot at winning the award, but could come close if he takes stuff next level.
Karl- Anthony Towns +6000 – Assuming Thibs doesn’t run him into the ground/kill him, I think Towns goes on a tear this year. If he carries the Wolves, which I believe he is capable of, this could be breakout season for him. It’s a long shot, but my favorite of them.
Victor Oladipo +6600 – Not a real candidate, despite his Most Improved award last season. This is worth noting since he went to IU, much like a lot of people who write on this site. He used to show up at our fraternity house and no one would really care. Now he is in the top 20 for the NBA MVP award. This was a mistake.
Kristaps Porzingis +27500 – “If anyone gives you 10,000 to one on anything, you take it. If John Mellencamp ever wins an Oscar, I am going to be a very rich dude.” – Kevin Malone. While the odds are slightly better than that of the ones suggested by gambling legend, Kevin Malone, they still aren’t great. KP’s injury makes this a borderline impossibility, but if he comes close it means he had the greatest two months in NBA history.
Where my money is going: Kevin Durant +1000
Durant is the back to back Finals MVP, the best player on the best team arguably ever, and may enter free agency this offseason (and join the Knicks) to take the next step of his career. He is the second most talented player in the NBA, behind LeBron and truly incredible to watch. The odds make this a decent value for him if you believe he plays and the Warriors play to the best of their abilities. On a team with four other superstars, Durant most often shines the brightest and I think this season is the perfect set up for him to win his 2nd MVP (and then come to the Knicks and make them ever more back than they are now).