NBA MVP Predictions with Betting Odds and Expert Picks
The NBA MVP race is always interesting, and his year it feels more wide-open and interesting than ever. A combination of the total collapse of the Warriors, the rise of some youngsters, and the continued strength of some of the old guard, means that almost anything is possible still. It has been a very fun season so far, and there is still so much left to come. Here is a look at how the race shapes up here in late November:
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+225): He's the reigning MVP, his numbers are up from last year, and he is the best defensive player on the board here. He is an obvious and deserving favorite. And the Bucks are leaving little doubt that they are the best team in the conference. What seems odd, though, is that despite his success and his incredible talent, he doesn't seem to really be capturing the narrative this year. He has been so good for long enough that we just expect it. We don't notice a lot about his team, and more often than not, when we do talk about him, it's about where he might play next. He's reliable and freakish, so he is a deserving favorite. But it really feels like he has to make a statement somehow - more of one than he makes every day - to reassert himself and remind everyone that he is the best player in the game. All that being said, if I was going to pick a player to win it all, it would be him without much hesitation.
Luka Doncic (+350): This is such an interesting case. On one hand, it is almost tough to believe how good this guy is. He has upped his already big-time game a bunch in his second season. He's must-watch TV every time he plays. And he is leading this team to big places. He's just amazing, and he has his team on pace to win at least 50 games - historically a key threshold for an MVP contender. But he's only in his second year. Only four guys have ever won the MVP in their first or second years, and the last was Kareem back in 1971. There has obviously been a whole lot of talent to come through the league since then. He certainly has momentum on his side - he was at +5000 to win it all before the season started. And he's only going to get better with time. But I lean towards short-term pessimism about his chances this year - at least at this price I do.
James Harden (+375): This is such a tough case to decipher. The best pure scorer in the league is scoring at a career high rate, and he is carrying a team that has a lot of passengers at this point. He's a former MVP and is maybe at his best right now. But he is an all-around player in the same way that I am a supermodel - not at all. The Freak can score almost as well, and he defends the hide off the ball, too. Is it enough to just be a one-dimensional player when you are stunningly good at that one dimension? I vote no, but I also would absolutely have him in my top three.
LeBron James (+550): I will admit up front that I have never been a LeBron guy, and he isn't growing on me in his later years. He is a truly spectacular talent, but I favor guys who know that the earth doesn't revolve around them. That being said, I have been very pleasantly surprised by how good he has been this year. After the mess of last season, it's like he has found focus again. And that should scare everyone else. This feels like a four-player race right now, and it would be a long way from a surprise if he wound up on top. I would bet against it, but only because of deeply-held biases. If I was trying to be objective for a second, I'd see him as the second most likely winner behind Giannis.
Anthony Davis (+850): Not going to happen. He has done very well with his new team, and all is good. But he will never outshine his teammate, and he will not get past him unless James is hurt - in which case Davis' game would take a hit.
Kawhi Leonard (+1400): Load management makes this discussion totally irrelevant. Is he good enough to win? Absolutely. Does he care even a little bit about this award? Not at all, clearly. This guy is a robot programmed for just one thing - winning titles.
Pascal Siakam (+3300): There is no chance of this happening, of course, but the guy deserves some recognition. The Raptors lost Kawhi, Kyle Lowry has been hurt much of the year, and Serge Ibaka is out. Yet they are 12-4, and the biggest reason for that is Siakam, who won most improved honors last year and could win them again given the leap forward he has again taken. He is a true superstar - one that few saw coming. He's all-NBA caliber to this point, though LeBron and Giannis obviously are, too, and all three would be in the same race. Oh well.
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