NBA MVP Odds & Picks
2020-2021 NBA MVP: Favorites
Dallas Mavericks SF Luka Doncic (+380)The current favorite to win the 2020-2021 MVP award is Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. Despite never winning a playoff series and only being in his third year in the NBA, the hype around the 21-year old forward has grown to astronomical levels. In his second season in the NBA, Doncic averaged 28.8 points per game, grabbing 9.4 rebounds and dishing 8.8 assists. While the Mavericks didn’t advance past the first round, he went toe-to-toe with the Clippers despite a pretty severe ankle injury. In that series, he averaged 31 points per game and 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists. The ceiling for Doncic on this Mavericks’ team is through the roof and it’s not impossible to think he could average 30-10-10 this season. If he can improve his defense (at all) and work on his three-point shooting some, Doncic could make a strong case that he’s the best player in the NBA. But should he be the favorite this season? That’s another story. But even at +380, he’s a good bet given how transcendent of a player he has shown to be already in his short NBA career.
Milwaukee Bucks PF Giannis Antetokounmpo (+500)Despite winning back-to-back MVP awards, Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t the favorite to win the award for a third straight season. While his situation in Milwaukee hasn’t changed much, there is a belief that “voter fatigue" could happen here after his back-to-back awards. Only three players have ever won the MVP award in three straight seasons: Bill Russell (1961-1963), Wilt Chamberlin (1966-1968), and Larry Bird (1984-1986). It’s just too hard to continue to post monster numbers for that length of time and avoid injury. However, the case for Antetokounmpo isn’t hard to make. His team will likely be the No. 1 seed in the East once again, and he’s gotten better every single season in the NBA. In the 2019-2020 season, he averaged 29.5 points in 30.4 minutes while shooting 30.4 percent from the three-point line. With some more minutes and more efficiency from deep, the Greek Freak could easily average 32-34 points per game on top of double-digit rebounds. Combine that with his elite defensive ability and it’s hard to make an argument there is a better overall player in the NBA. Given that he’s only 26 years old and improving in nearly every phase of his game, +500 is pretty good odds here for the reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
Los Angeles Lakers PF Anthony Davis (+800)A few months ago, Anthony Davis was hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy as his Lakers took home the NBA title. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Davis can play better than what he did in his first season in Los Angeles, but the Lakers are going to be careful with LeBron James in the regular season. For that reason, they could lean on Davis to carry them in the regular season. Davis averaged 26-9-3 last season, but the Lakers appear to be ready to give him a bigger workload this season.
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If Davis were to average 28-10-3 and be among the league’s best defenders, it wouldn’t be hard to make an argument for the former No. 1. If Los Angeles winds up as the No. 1 seed again this season, it’s going to be hard to choose anyone else, given his impact on both sides of the court. Look for Davis to have a career year for the Lakers as he’s just 27 years old and on a team where the roster is built around him and James. LeBron probably will help steer the MVP narrative in Davis’ direction throughout the season.
Brooklyn Nets SF Kevin Durant (+1500)The NBA MVP award is a lot about narratives. The voters love a good story and that is how someone like Russell Westbrook or Steve Nash ends up with MVP awards. That is why Kevin Durant at +1500 is my favorite bet on the board to take home the honor. After tearing his Achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals, Durant is finally ready to return to the court with his new team in the Brooklyn Nets. Durant is a former MVP award winner (2013-2014) and a two-time Finals MVP. We know how insanely talented he is and now that he’s back on the court, this could be his revenge tour. Durant is a great bet to lead the NBA in scoring and it wouldn’t be surprising if he averaged 32-34 points this season on the Nets. He’s going to take a ton of shots, and if he can elevate this Nets team to a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, he’s going to earn a ton of votes. Look for the 10-time All-Star to dominate the 2020-201 regular season and potentially steal this award away from Doncic or Antetokounmpo.
Philadelphia 76ers PG Ben Simmons (+7000)At 70-1, Ben Simmons isn’t a bad long-shot bet to win the MVP award. However, he’s not going to do that in Philadelphia with Joel Embiid on the roster. Instead, what you are betting on here is that Simmons is traded (maybe to Houston for James Harden?) and puts up a huge stat line on his own team. If Simmons were put into a situation like Harden was in Houston, could he average 28-12-8 as the main star? Sure. He just needs to find the right team for his skill set. Simmons is one of the best 20 players in the NBA and that’s why he’s not a bad bet here. Don’t be afraid to gamble on elite talent, especially at +7000.
2020-2021 NBA MVP: Sleepers
Zion Williamson (+6600) is an interesting sleeper given his talent level and if he can elevate the Pelicans to a playoff team this season, maybe he gets some MVP buzz. Watch out for Trae Young (+6600) as well as he could put up silly numbers in that Hawks’ offense. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he led the league in scoring and with all the additions Atlanta made this offseason, that could be a playoff team this season. One final sleeper is Jamal Murray (+8000) in Denver. We saw how well he played in the NBA Bubble last season and if he can will the Nuggets to the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, maybe he gets some love for the voters. It’s important to remember just how good he was in the playoffs this season, averaging 26.5-4.8-6.6 in nearly 40 minutes. Look for him to make a big leap in Year 5.
2020-2021 NBA MVP Best Bets
The best bet here is to pick Antetokounmpo at +500. He’s going to put up monster numbers, and his defensive ability will always keep him in the conversation. If he can improve his three-point shot, he’s a lock to win the award. However, don’t be afraid to throw a few dollars at Durant either with his pedigree and storyline coming up for this season.
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