2014 NBA MVP Odds and Updated Betting Predictions
by George Monroy - 2/18/2014
The NBA MVP award can be a tricky end-of-the-year honor to pass out. The league does not really have a set of criteria for what ‘Most Valuable’ really means. Is it an award for the best player in the NBA? Or is it an award for the best player on the best team? Or maybe it should go to the player that puts up the best stats? If we were to use each of those questions as the basis for handing out this season’s award, we might get three different answers to the question. Paul George is the best player on the league’s best team, while LeBron James is the best overall player in the NBA, and Kevin Durant is putting of the best stats of the year.
Most experts and NBA observers have narrowed down the award to a race between James and Durant, with the Oklahoma City Thunder forward jumping out to a huge lead based on his dominance during the first half of the season. Durant scored 30 points or more in 12 consecutive games, and he is averaging 31.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. At this point, the winner of the award is almost a forgone conclusion—Durant has done too much, and James too little for the award to go to anyone else. The question now becomes is there any value in wagering on any other player besides Durant? Let’s take a quick look at the odds and try to figure out which player has the best chance at upsetting Durant for the award
Top 10 MVP Candidates (odds from Sportsbook.ag)
Kevin Durant: -375
LeBron James: +175
Paul George: +1600
Stephen Curry: +2500
Chris Paul: +4500
James Harden: +5000
Carmelo Anthony: +6600
Tony Parker: +600
Dwight Howard: +7500
Kyrie Irving: +7500
Durant: the Thunder forward is a huge favorite entering the second half of the season, but there are two big factors left in play that could decide whether or not he wins the award come May—Russell Westbrook and the Miami Heat. Westbrook is set to return to Oklahoma City possibly this week, and his presence alone could be enough to put Durant’s MVP chances in jeopardy or at least make betting on him at -375 a bad idea. Westbrook dominates the ball for the Thunder, and Durant’s production will definitely decrease—the point guard can at times shoot too much and pass too little.
James: the second factor that could ruin Durant’s end-of-the-year honors is just how good the Miami Heat plan on being over the last few months of the season. James and the Heat started the year on cruise control and were trying to conserve energy after making three straight NBA Finals appearances. The reigning MVP will probably looking to step on the gas pedal from now until the postseason, and he has been particularly ornery as of late, taking ‘shots’ at Durant in the media and claiming that he will be one of the best four players in NBA history by the time his career is done. James may be feeling underappreciated and looking to make a statement.
George: at this point the MVP award is strictly a two-man race, but if fans and experts have to give consideration to another player, it would be George. The forward is the best player on his team and a huge reason why the Indiana Pacers have gotten off to the best start in the league. And simply based on the history of the award, the best player on the league’s best team always gets MVP consideration. If Indiana can secure the best record in the NBA by five to six games, it becomes difficult not to give the breakout star’s 22.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 games averages serious consideration for the award.
Which player has the most value? Durant’s averages are phenomenal, and the Thunder are sitting on a 40-12 record with 30 games to play. However, it would be unwise to write off James—probably the best player since Michael Jordan—with over a third of the season left. The return of Westbrook and James’ renewed fire over the last part of the season will make the MVP race a tight one over the next few months.
Bettors who favor Durant will probably be able to get a cheaper price within the coming weeks, while bettors who believe James will pick up his production over the next 30 games might want to place a wager now as his odds will only decrease as the season continues.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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