The leading favorite in NBA MVP odds for the upcoming season is LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) who has a +300 mark right now. The logic here is pretty sound given that James is the best basketball player in the known universe. The new-look Lakers are reportedly going to be a run-and-gun team, and are being graded as the fourth favorite to win the championship at +1100. They’re also being tagged with a 49.5 season win total, which would be at least a 15-win improvement over last year. If the Lakers get anywhere close to being a post-season threat with 45+ wins, LeBron is worthy of MVP consideration.
Obviously, LeBron is always worthy of MVP consideration. This year, however, he’s in a position to show us something we’ve never seen before. Yes, playing in the Western Conference is that big of a deal.
Former MVP’s Stephen Curry (+1600) and Kevin Durant (+900) are more than likely going to cannibalize each other’s NBA MVP odds given that they both play for the Golden State Warriors. For either of them to have a chance, the Warriors are going to have to win 70 games. That’s not happening.
Reigning MVP James Harden is right on James’ heels with +350 odds, but the memory of Harden imploding in the Western Conference Finals last season with a chance to vanquish the Warriors is going to linger in the conversation. Harden is a supremely talented guard, and one of the best scorers in the league. He got his due last season, but will be hard pressed to do anything that we haven’t seen before.
Same goes for Russell Westbrook (+1000), who would need to average a triple-double again while also ensuring that his team wins the Northwest Division. Even that wouldn’t be enough considering how widely panned his MVP season was by critics and so-called experts.
The more intriguing bets are the guys that have not won the award before. Leading this charge is Anthony Davis, who has +400 NBA MVP odds as we enter the season. Davis is always in this conversation because he’s considered the second or third best player in the league. He’s as good of a bet as there is in this market, and offers a moderate return. But the big worry is that he’ll either be traded at midseason, or suffer an injury. Health has been the only thing that’s stopped Anthony Davis (outside of the team’s inability to surround him with talent) from being the impact player we know he can be. If this is truly his “breakout” season, then Davis is truthfully the best bet in the whole league.
Another prodigal talent that always enters the preseason MVP discussion is Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. He is getting a +450 number entering the season, but has a lot of questions to answer first. There’s no doubting his talent. It’s whether or not he can gel with new head coach Mike Budenholzer or not. He’d have to put up incredible numbers to make his campaign last the season, and while he got off to a blazing start at the beginning of the season, he cooled off as the year went on.
Kawhi Leonard (+700) also has tantalizing NBA MVP odds. Nobody in the league has a better chance at revamping his damaged image than Leonard, who was traded north of the border to the Toronto Raptors. Leonard is still a top-5 player in the league when engaged, and this is as big as “I knew it!” bets get. Toronto has a very, very good chance of repeating as regular season conference winners; a feat which will be even more impressive if they surpass the Celtics and Sixers. The only dent in this bet is that it’s hard to say whether or not Leonard will be fully engaged for the entire run of the campaign. He gave up on the Spurs last year when they were in the playoffs. Could he do it again? At 7-to-1, it might be worth the gamble.
Speaking of which, if you’re going to take a chance on any longshot, then Kyrie Irving is the best bet. He has +1800 NBA MVP odds and could not only lead the best team in the Eastern Conference, but is poised to put up his best numbers if Gordon Hayward is healthy. Kyrie would need to average a 25-5-5 to be in the conversation, coupled with the Celtics sitting atop the conference standings. All of this is possible, and a flier play on his NBA MVP odds is certainly worth it if you have spare change lying around in your wallet.
And how could we forget about Joel Embiid? For those of you that Trust The Process, Embiid has +1400 NBA MVP odds. His running mate, Ben Simmons, is just outside the top-10 with +3300 odds of his own.
The NBA Season starts Wednesday, October 17th with the Sixers taking on the Celtics and the Thunder visiting the defending champion Warriors!