NBA MVP Odds – Studs, Duds and Sleepers

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2019 NBA MVP Odds

It has been almost 4 months since the Golden State Warriors completed the sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers by winning the Game 4 in the Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NBA offseason seems to last a lifetime and even distractions like the free-agency and the NBA draft are not enough to keep all the NBA fans satisfied during the long summer break.

With opening day rosters complete and competitive action just around the corner, it is time to discuss which players will battle it out for the coveted NBA MVP trophy. Besides the perennial candidates like LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis, a number of younger players and players coming off injuries are looking to step up this season.

I have prepared a blog, discussing the main candidates for the NBA MVP, the odds of them winning the award and the reasons why they might not end up with the award in the end. If you would like to know more, read on!


LeBron James +350

The King has changed his address this offseason and now he resides in Los Angeles, wearing a Lakers uniform. This is the second time he has left Cleveland, each time with a new plan to start a new chapter in his career. The move to Los Angeles has as much to do about life outside of basketball, as it does with what the Lakers can offer him at this stage of the career.

LeBron James has joined a talented but very young and inexperienced team, that has now missed the playoffs in 5 straight seasons. That kind of record will just not fly in Los Angeles, in a storied franchise that is used to raising banners in the gym all the time. With LeBron committed to the Lakers for the next 4 seasons, the fans and the management have plenty of reasons for optimism and better days for the franchise.

Playing for such a young and growing team, will still thrust LeBron James into to central spot when it comes to both leadership and performances on the court. LeBron’s numbers have always been MVP-caliber and they might even get a small boost this season, as he tries to pick up the slack of some growing pains for the younger players. This is why he is the main favorite for the NBA MVP Award this season.

On the other hand…
It is important to note that although NBA MVP Award is an individual achievement, much of the emphasis is being put on team success as a supporting argument for the player. How good will the Lakers be this season? That is difficult to answer, with possibilities ranging from potential Western Conference finalist to missing the Playoffs altogether.

Coupled with this being Lebron’s 16th season in the NBA, there is an argument to be made that LeBron might not have it in him to pull another weak team to the NBA Finals by himself. After all, we did see the decline of his defensive performances with the increased workload over the years. Much of LeBron James’ fortune lies in the hands of his teammates, who might be the deciding factor in the MVP Race.

Anthony Davis +400

Anthony Davis is entering his 7th season in the NBA, fresh off a stellar 2017/18 season which saw him finish third in the NBA MVP voting. Since being drafted by the Pelicans, Davis was expected to end up here and was labeled as a no-miss prospect. To be honest, the biggest obstacle to Anthony Davis’ success was always his health, as he is yet to play a full 82-game season in the NBA.

The good news is that his health is finally stable and he is able to play heavy minutes in a prolonged period of time, without the fear of getting injured. Last season was a breakthrough for Davis and Pelicans, who finally won their first playoff series, by sweeping the Portland Trailblazers in 4 games.

Davis will take an even bigger load this season, as Demarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo have both left the team. This is a double-edged sword though, since the Pelicans chances to make it back to the playoffs in the competitive West Conference just took a hit. Chances of a player winning the NBA MVP award and his team failing to miss the playoffs are minimal.

Still, Davis is a stud with a complete skillset that can dominate the NBA on both sides of the floor. Whatever happens with the Pelicans, his name will be in the NBA MVP discussion come the season’s end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo +400

The Greek Freak is entering a third straight season with the expectations of taking over the mantle of the best players in the Eastern Conference and challenging for the NBA MVP Award. Things always seem to go wrong at one point or another for Giannis though. Whether it’s untimely injuries, lack of team success or a struggling jump-shot, the Greek Freak is yet to make an impact in the NBA that everyone was expecting him to.

Milwaukee Bucks are a team in turmoil, hit with coaching changes and underachieving performances in the key games and the playoffs. Their road in the East just got easier, but there are still two major obstacles in the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to overcome.

Giannis is a stud who will fill the stat sheet but if he fails to guide the Bucks to a deep playoff run this season, there is little chance he will be the guy to hear his name called for the NBA MVP Award.

James Harden +650

James Harden is the current NBA MVP of the regular season, mostly due to a spectacular 67-win season that the Houston Rockets had last year and a deep playoff run which pushed the eventual NBA Champions, Golden State Warriors, to a brink of elimination in the Western Conference.

Mike D’Anthony and his system have always produced phenomenal numbers and that holds true in the case of James Harden as well. The Beard has transformed himself into one of the most dominant offensive weapons in the game and he has won the hearts of the voting committee last season.

Houston Rockets have lost some of their depth this season but the core is still there and Carmelo Anthony could be an X-factor for them this season off the bench. This makes Harden a stud that will be hard to leave out of the NBA MVP Conversation, come the end of the season.


Kawhi Leonard +900

Kawhi Leonard has forced his way out of the San Antonio Spurs and is now a member of the Toronto Raptors.

Just when Kawhi Leonard was supposed to step up as the best two-way player in the NBA, he was hit with unfortunate injuries that have derailed his progress.

He is now on a new team, that will cater heavily to him, in order to stand a chance of signing him at the end of the season. It is no secret that Leonard would prefer living and playing in Los Angeles. It is in the mutual interest of both Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard to have a spectacular season. The Raptors are loaded with talent that should give Leonard a chance of a deep playoff run in the East, where he should be able to showcase his talents.

Still, there are plenty of things to be concerned about Leonard. Injuries have been a factor throughout his career, as he is yet to play a full NBA season. He was also a member of the Spurs organization, which always puts players in the best position to be productive. A lot of players failed to replicate the production they had in the Spurs uniform, once they have left the club.

Until I can see Leonard healthy for a prolonged period of time and his trademark two-way game shinning again, I consider him a dud in the NBA MVP race.

Kevin Durant +1000

In the eyes of the NBA world, Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the NBA at the moment, after LeBron James. His physical attributes matched with the skill and scoring instincts have never been seen in the NBA before. He is also a two-time NBA Champion and NBA Finals MVP.

Durant plays on a loaded Golden State Warriors squad which has 5 legitimate all-stars on their roster in Curry, Thompson, Green, Durant and Cousins. That team is all about winning right now and improving their legacy. As such, Steve Kerr and the coaching staff try their best to keep the team fresh for the deep playoff runs and often rotate players and their workloads.

All these arguments speak in favor of passing on Kevin Durant for the NBA MVP. Despite being an incredibly efficient scorer, Durant plays for an unselfish team that likes to move the ball and that affect the individual stats of the players in the system. This is why I consider Durant to be a dud for the regular season NBA MVP award. When it comes to the NBA Finals MVP, he would be my frontrunner.

Russell Westbrook +1200

Russell Westbrook has won the NBA MVP Award two season ago and, in that timespan, put together two back-to-back triple-double average seasons, a feat that has never been achieved before, not even by the mighty Oscar Robertson. The irony lies in the fact that the same feat that won him the NBA MVP Award two-seasons ago, barely got him any votes last season.

When talking about Russell Westbrook, everything is a contradiction. Few players can match his commitment, loyalty and work ethic but also few would argue that he doesn’t really help his team win games. Ultimately, the faith of Russell Westbrook’s NBA MVP campaign is 100% in the hands of his team and the success they can have this season.

I find it hard to think of an individual performance by Russell that might secure him an NBA MVP, despite the success of Oklahoma City Thunder. This makes him a dud in my opinion and I wouldn’t bet my money on him bringing home the NBA MVP Award.


Joel Embiid +1600

With Joel Embiid, we enter the territory of sleeper picks for the NBA MVP Awards. After having his early career in the NBA derailed by the injuries, Joel Embiid is putting stud numbers and dominating both sides of the floor. All that, in a limited role for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Eastern Conference is wide open for the Philadelphia 76ers to make a run, with only the likes of Boston Celtics and maybe Toronto Raptors standing in their way.

If Embiid is able to stay healthy and put together 25 and 10 nights on a consistent basis, while the 76ers run away with a 1st place in the East, he might claw to the top of the leaderboard in the NBA MVP race.

The bottom line, when it comes to Embiid, will be his health and the performances of his teammate Ben Simmons. Simmons is a unique prospect at 6’10’’ with point guard skills and he is a great compliment to Embiid. If Simmons is able to upgrade his game and overcome the deficiencies of his shot, the 76ers might be able to take the Eastern Conference this season.

Kyrie Irving +1800

I was having a hard time putting Kyrie Irving on this list, until I reviewed the Boston Celtics last season one more time. With Irving taking the mantle of leadership, the Celtics came out firing this season and wrapped up the 1st seed in the East quickly, despite losing Gordon Hayward to a terrible leg injury in the season opener.

Once Irving got hurt, Celtics refused to surrender and put together a fantastic Playoff run which pushed the Cavaliers with LeBron James to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Still, there was a sense that the Celtics lacked the age and quality to win tight games, especially on the road without Kyrie Irving. Even though Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepped up in the playoffs, they are not players of that caliber yet.

If Irving is able to stay healthy (a big if due to his injury history) and lead the Celtics to the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference and a run to the NBA Finals, he might be able to pull off an MVP-caliber season that will have a lot to do with intangibles and winning, compared to just pure stats.

The Bet:  Place Your Bet!

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