Way-Too-Early NBA MVP Betting Lines Watch
Which NBA Players Should You Have Your Eye On?
All NBA MVP odds come from Bovada and are current as of Nov. 11. The following candidates are being presented in order of betting appeal based off a combination of odds and the actual likelihood they win the latest Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
6. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks (+2500)
Who would have thought we’d see a member of the New York Knicks on this list at all?
Look, Kristaps Porzingis is unlikely to win the NBA’s MVP award. He’s playing good enough, scoring 30 points per game on career-best efficiency while posting the league’s highest usage rate. And Russell Westbrook, last year’s winner, opened the door for great players from so-so teams to take home this honor.
But the Knicks won’t be so-so by the end of the season. They’re probably looking at a 35- to 37-win ceiling. That’s nowhere near enough for Porzingis to enter this discussion. And while they play like a 50-plus-win squad when he’s on the court, according to NBA Math, he cannot take the floor for every second of every minute of every game.
Heck, the Knicks will be lucky if Porzingis finishes the season healthy. He has been playing through elbow soreness, and with the team not necessarily trying to win now, he could be shut down around the All-Star break to get surgery.
5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (+200)
Yours truly was tempted to put Giannis Antetokounmpo lower—for now anyway. His appeal might rise as the season goes on, now that the Milwaukee Bucks are welcoming Eric Bledsoe into the fold. But oddsmakers have made him the absolute favorite in this race, and that’s a difficult proposition to buy.
Antetokounmpo, make no mistake, has the talent and the numbers. No one has ever posted his per-game lines before. He is very much something the NBA has never witnessed. And, again, Westbrook’s victory last year paves the way for another superstar on a sub-50-win team to earn this distinction.
Still, the Bucks don’t look like they’re bare-minimum good enough. Their defense is in disarray, mostly because their hyper-aggressive approach isn’t resulting in as many turnovers and they’re giving up a crap ton of strong-side corner threes.
Again: Keep your eyes on Antetokounmpo. If the Bucks shoot up the standings or the potential return on a bet increases, consider an investment. You can even funnel money into him now. Just be wary of how much you’re staking on him actualizing his favorite status.
4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (+500)
This stings. LeBron James, as far as I’m concerned, should always be the end-all, be-all of MVP discussions. He is the best player in the world, and the Cleveland Cavaliers would be nothing without him.
The problem: They’re barely anything with him right now. If the playoffs started on Nov. 11, the Cavaliers wouldn’t be in them. Their offense is starting to find itself, but the defense is dead last in points allowed per 100 possessions and giving up more wide-open three-pointers than any other team in league.
LeBron, of course, has been fantastic. But he needs the Cavaliers to start generating better returns before we move him up this list. Remember: He suffers from perpetual voter fatigue after winning four of these awards, so his teams must be great for him to garner adequate consideration.
3. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (+1200)
Pore over Stephen Curry’s per-minute splits, and you’ll find that they’re eerily similar to his performance in 2015-16, which earned him the first unanimous MVP victory in NBA history.
A similar outcome isn’t in the cards. Too many other viable candidates exist at the moment, while both Curry and Kevin Durant will rip votes away from another. But Curry is once again proving to be the Golden State Warriors’ most valuable player—no small feat when Durant is so often recognized as the second best talent in the Association.
2. Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics (+1400)
Yes, Kyrie Irving.
Most wouldn’t have expected him to appear on this list at all, let alone so high, at the start of the year. But the context surrounding the Boston Celtics’ season is giving him an anecdotal edge.
Gordon Hayward is out for the year after suffering a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia. The Celtics, in part because of his absence, are starting two youngsters in rookie Jayson Tatum and sophomore Jaylen Brown.
They’re posting the best record in the NBA anyway. And although Irving has seen better per-game numbers and general efficiency, he’s the alpha captaining their ship. He leads the team in scoring, is shooting 53.8 percent in the clutch and, most importantly, has never played better on the defensive end.
If the Celtics hold onto the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Irving could be a shoo-in for this honor—and no, we’re not kidding.
1. James Harden, Houston Rockets (+1200)
James Harden shouldn’t be this high. The whole point of the Houston Rockets trading for Chris Paul was so he didn’t have to carry them on his own.
Alas, a knee injury has kept Paul sidelined to start the season, forcing Harden to play exactly as he did last season—as the Rockets’ sole lifeline.
The result: A top-two offense and one of the league’s two best records.
Harden has finished as the runner-up in this race through each of the past two seasons. Even with Paul coming back, he’ll have to shoulder a huge workload, and he’ll always have this start-of-season solo act as anecdotal support. Don’t be surprised if this is the season he finally calls the Maurice Podoloff Trophy his own.
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