The halfway point of the NBA regular season is approaching, and a compelling NBA MVP race is brewing. Through the first two months, that is one of a number of interesting NBA betting storylines that have transpired.
At the top of the list by a wide margin, of course, is the run that the Utah Jazz have been on in the last month and a half. Another one is the Detroit Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder having a penchant for covering and/or winning against some of the NBA’s better teams. And another one is the run of overs that New Orleans Pelicans games have been on, with their streak at 20 of 23 heading into tonight’s game with the Phoenix Suns.
From an individual standpoint, the most interesting NBA betting storyline is the emergence of LeBron James as the NBA MVP favorite. The Los Angeles Lakers sans Anthony Davis may have lost to the Brooklyn Nets last night, but LeBron continued to do his part to drive the reigning champs. He scored 32 points, corralled eight rebounds, and dished out seven assists.
In year 18, LeBron is averaging 25.9 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, and 7.9 assists per game. And while his outside shooting numbers are down this month, he is still shooting 37.2 percent from three, which would be the third-highest mark of his career. And even when he misses, it’s entertaining:
With every week, LeBron’s status as NBA MVP betting favorite continues to strengthen. Here’s a look at the latest NBA MVP odds.
Updated 2020-21 NBA MVP Odds
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers +125
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers +500
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets +500
- Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets +1100
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors +1100
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks +1400
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks +1600
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers +2600
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers +3600
- James Harden, Brooklyn Nets +4600
- Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz +6500
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers +6500
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers +8500
NBA MVP Odds Analysis: Who Can Catch LeBron?
LeBron’s position as the NBA MVP favorite is notable for a number of reasons. It would be his first MVP since 2013, when he won his fourth in five seasons. It can certainly be argued that he should have more than four MVP wins at this juncture of his career, but the MVP, whether in basketball, football, or baseball, does not always end up in the hands of the right hands, does it?
Secondly, he would be the oldest NBA MVP winner ever. At 36, he would surpass Karl Malone and Michael Jordan, who were both 35. He would also be the first player over 30 to win the MVP since a 32-year-old Steve Nash repeated as MVP in 2006.
Beyond that, for him to win this season would be an impressive feat given the list of potential candidates.
Joel Embiid (+500)
Embiid has led the 76ers to top spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks while making 30-point games look routine. If he stays healthy, and the 76ers continue to be in the mix for the #1 seed in the East, Embiid will not go quietly in the MVP race.
Nikola Jokic (+500)
Jokic has six triple-doubles and has come close to several more, and he is averaging career highs across the board:
- Points per game: 27.4 (previous career high: 20.1)
- Rebounds per game: 11.1 (previous career high: 11.1)
- Assists per game: 8.6 (previous career high: 7.3)
- Steals per game: 1.6 (previous career high: 1.4)
Will the Nuggets win enough to keep Jokic in it? They have been up and down this season. They are currently down, having lost back-to-back games to drop to 15-13 on the season.
Stephen Curry (+1100)
Curry has bounced back in a big way after an injury-hit 2019-20 season and his doing his best to keep the Warriors in contention for a postseason spot in the Western Conference. He had an off-night shooting against the Heat on Wednesday night, but he still finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists in a double-overtime win. Curry is averaging 35 points per game in February.
Kevin Durant (+1100)
Durant is currently sidelined indefinitely with a hamstring injury and missed games for COVID-protocol reasons. The Nets have played nine games in February, and Durant has played in only three of them. None of this works in his favor, especially with the Nets winning without him. But he has been brilliant this season in his return from injury.
Luka Doncic (+1400)
Doncic was the NBA MVP betting favorite prior to the season and for a while into the season. But he has fallen back due to the Mavericks, who are currently 13-15, underachieving relative to others. However, Doncic will continue to be in the mix when he has been as stellar as he has. He has back-to-back 40-point games and three in February, and he has seven triple-doubles this season.
NBA MVP Odds: The Best of the Rest
Giannis and the Bucks have lost five in a row, with all five losses coming without Jrue Holiday in the lineup. If they start winning when he returns, does that mean that Holiday should get some MVP votes? Seriously though, it is unlikely that Giannis will win a third straight MVP, no matter how well the Bucks do this season.
Were there an alternate MVP for the high achievers who almost certainly will not be MVP through no fault of their own, Lillard would win it. The Trail Blazers have won six straight and are fourth in the Western Conference, and they are doing it without the injured CJ McCollum due to Dame Dolla being money almost every night. Last time out against the Pelicans, Lillard had 43 points, 16 assists, and a game-winning three-point play in a 126-124 win.
And what about Mitchell? The Jazz have the best record in the league, and Mitchell is on track to post a career high in points per game. But while he has six 30-point games this season, he’s a victim of the Jazz’s quality depth and the contributions of the team as a whole.
It is a long NBA season, and a lot can happen between now and the end of the season. At one point, it appeared that Patrick Mahomes was a shoo-in for the NFL MVP award, and the NFL futures odds reflected that. But in the end, Aaron Rodgers took home his third MVP and denied Mahomes his second MVP in three seasons.
For now though, it appears like it will take some beating to keep LeBron from taking home a long-awaited fifth MVP.