Bovada, a popular online betting website, has released their initial betting odds for this season’s NBA regular season MVP:
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) August 16, 2017
It should come as no surprise that the reigning MVP, Oklahoma City‘s Russell Westbrook, opened up as the favorite with 7/2 odds. While it may be unlikely that he averages a triple-double again, the Thunder’s acquisition of Paul George will help Westbrook move higher up the Western Conference standings and give him more support for his back-to-back MVP hopes. Westbrook should still score in bunches, albeit not very efficiently, and may even raise his assist totals with another All-Star-caliber player on the roster.
Immediately following Russ is his former Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant. Durant, at 9/2 odds, is also a former MVP and will play for the best team in the NBA for the second consecutive year, the Golden State Warriors. Sure, Durant may not post MVP numbers alongside fellow superstars Steph Curry (11/1 MVP odds) and Draymond Green (60/1 MVP odds), but he’s still more than capable of dominating his opponents. If there was any doubt about that, he certainly disproved it in last year’s NBA Finals, averaging 35.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game while shooting over 55-percent from the field; those are undoubtedly MVP numbers.
Arguably the best value pick here is Washington Wizards’ star point guard, John Wall. At 33/1 odds, Wall’s first MVP victory would come along with a very nice payout to bettors. Last season, Wall set career-highs in points per game (23.1), assists per game (10.7), and field goal percentage (45.1). One reason for Wall’s increased success was his teammate Bradley Beal’s health; Beal started over 70 games for the first time since 2014, and also averaged career-highs in points per game (23.1) and field goal percentage (48.2). Wall, now heading in to his age-27 season, will need to score more points this season while also maintaining his elite assist numbers if he wants a shot at the MVP. Good news, he proved that by averaging 27.2 points and 10.3 assists per contest in his 13 postseason games, all while still shooting over 45-percent.
And then of course, LeBron James. Despite not winning an MVP award since the 2012-13 season, James is still the best player in the NBA. At 15/2, just the fourth-lowest odds, it almost feels disrespectful. LeBron is as consistent as they come; he’ll pump out 25+ points a night very efficiently, dish out 7+ assists, and pull down 7+ rebounds. However, if his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving ends up being traded, expect those numbers to skyrocket. James will need to do more in order for the Cavs to win games, and it would definitely improve his MVP chances.
There are a few other interesting choices on this list. Giannis Antetokounmpo (17/2 odds) believes that he’s a serious MVP candidate, and after being the first player in NBA history to finish top-20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, now isn’t the best time to say he’s wrong. Curry’s aforementioned 11/1 odds are nice, especially considering he’s already won twice in the past three years. Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics is looking at 25/1 odds after his breakout season. With another major scoring threat (Gordon Hayward), Thomas may get more assists and a better team record, possibly persuading voters to overlook his abysmal defense.