2021 NBA Best Picks for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player

Eric Uribe
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2022 08:00 PM
2021 NBA  Best Picks for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player

With the regular season right around the corner, now is a great time to take stock of the NBA prop-betting market. Awards are the best place to start in this regard because the NBA Finals hierarchy has been talked about ad nauseam to this point. Plus, the race for individual hardware is always compelling in the Association.

Our 2021 NBA props journey will begin with picks for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Improved Player. They represent three of the most competitive award fields this year, so putting them under the microscope prior to the start of the regular season simply feels right.

Let's begin with everyone's favorite: the MVP betting landscape. Here are the latest NBA prop betting odds, courtesy of BetOnline:

NBA MVP PickBetOnline
Luka Doncic+450
Kevin Durant+700
Giannis Antetokounmpo+700
Stephen Curry+800
Joel Embiid+850
LeBron James+1200
Damian Lillard+1400
James Harden+1400
Nikola Jokic+1600
Trae Young+1600
Jayson Tatum+1600
Devin Booker+2200
Russell Westbrook+2500
Chris Paul+2500
Anthony Davis+2800
Zion Williamson+2800
Donovan Mitchell+3300
Paul George+3300
Ja Morant+3500
Bradley Beal+4000
Kyrie Irving+4000
Kawhi Leonard+5000
Jimmy Butler+6600
Jaylen Brown+6600
Jmmy butler+6600
Klay Thompson+6600
Julius Randle+6600
Khris Middleton+6600
Karl-Anthony Towns+8000
Zach LaVine+8000
LaMelo Ball+8000
Ben Simmons+8000
Anthony Edwards+15000
Bam Adebayo+15000
Domantas Sabonis+10000
Brandon Ingram+15000
CJ McCollum+15000
Tobias Harris+15000
DeMar DeRozan+15000
Deandre Ayton+20000
De'Aaron Fox+20000
Christian Wood+20000
Jamal Murray+25000
Nikola Vucevic+25000
Michael Porter Jr.+25000
Malcolm Brogdon+25000
John Wall+25000
Jrue Holiday+25000
Kristaps Porzingis+25000
Kyle Lowry+25000

You always want to double-check these NBA betting lines before making your NBA prop picksNBA future odds always move as the season wears on and will shift at BetOnline and other top online sportsbooks as a result.

2021-22 NBA Awards Predictions

Our first batch of NBA prop predictions will focus on MVP honors since we've already dropped those NBA betting odds. Though we have provided the entire available field for the MVP hardware, we will be narrowing our scope for Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player, looking instead at only our top-10 candidates in each category.

2021-22 NBA MVP Pick

This year's NBA MVP landscape is truly fascinating. Nikola Jokic (+1600) turned last year's race into a foregone conclusion by the midway point. Injuries to LeBron James (+1200) and Joel Embiid (+850) helped his case, but he was arguably the top option regardless of context.

Here's the thing about the NBA's MVP award: It is almost always given to the best player from one of the league's six best teams. That logic is flawed. It's also the truth. That'll make it difficult for Jokic to repeat, even though he will be just as good. The Denver Nuggets are expected to be without Jamal Murray (+2500), their second-best player, for most of the year. That, in turn, suggests the Nuggets won't be good enough for Jokic to earn consideration.

Both LeBron and Embiid should loom at quality options. However, LeBron is entering his age-37 season and Embiid is a lock to miss at least 20 games every year. We don't expect either to play in enough contests to beat out this hyper-competitive.

Luka Doncic (+450) is the overwhelming favorite because his Dallas Mavericks squad both wants for another star and is built to steamroll the competition during the regular season. Still, we have questions about head coach Jason Kidd, a controversial hire who could hold his best player back with outmoded offensive ideologies.

Rolling with Kevin Durant (+700) or James Harden (+1400) is tempting now that Kyrie Irving (+4000) could miss all season due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. For our money, though, we are most intrigued by Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700), who hails from the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, has two MVPs already to his name, and remains the type of player who can contend for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the same season.

OSB Prediction: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700)

Giannis Antetokounmpo To win the NBA MVP award

2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Below is the list of the top-10 candidates to win the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year:

  • Rudy Gobert (+330)
  • Anthony Davis (+400)
  • Ben Simmons (+700)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800)
  • Joel Embiid (+900)
  • Myles Turner (+900)
  • Bam Adebayo (+1400)
  • Jrue Holiday (+1600)
  • Matisse Thybulle (+1600)
  • Draymond Green (+2500)

We would recommend avoiding Rudy Gobert (+330) unless he starts inching towards a higher payout. He has won the Defensive Player of the Year award three times over the past half-decade. People will get voter fatigue, and we think the Utah Jazz's defense is a regression candidate.

As we already mentioned, Antetokounmpo (+800) is intriguing, but both he and Jrue Holiday (+1600) will take votes away from one another. Also: Holiday guards the opposing team's best player far more often.

Embiid (+900) might be the most dominant defensive player of the era. And yet, we find ourselves once again concerned about his ability to stay healthy.

That leaves to step out on a limb with Anthony Davis (+400). People tend to under-appreciate all he does on defense. That won't happen this year. The Los Angeles Lakers got rid of three of their five best defensive players from last season. If they remain elite on defense this year, it will be almost entirely because of Davis.

OSB Prediction: Anthony Davis (+400)

Anthony Davis To win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award

2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player Pick

Here are the players laying top-10 odds to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award:

  • Jordan Poole (+550)
  • Michael Porter (+1000)
  • Kevin Porter Jr. (+1000)
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1400)
  • OG Anunoby (+1400)
  • Ja Morant (+1600)
  • Dejounte Murray (+1600)
  • Collin Sexton (+2000)
  • Keldon Johnson (+2000)
  • Tyrese Maxey (+2000)

The NBA's Most Improved Player landscape is almost always a crapshoot. That said, we can decipher some trends. Chief among them: Established stars never win the hardware. That eliminates names like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1400) and Ja Morant (+1600).

Without mincing words, we endorse OG Anunoby (+1400). He is already the best on-ball defender in the game, and the Toronto Raptors are now expected to put the ball in his hands more often at the offensive end. We expect him to clear 18 points per game while contending for All-Defense honors. That doesn't make him a MIP shoo-in, but we feel confident in his overall candidacy.

OSB Prediction: OG Anunoby (+1400)

OG Anunoby To win the NBA Most Improved Player award

Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NBA betting:

Meet the author

Eric Uribe

Eric has been passionate about sports since he was 10 years old. He brings over 10 years of sports journalism experience to his expert coverage of sports betting. Hailing from the US, Eric leverages his diverse expertise covering sports at all levels – from high schoo...

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