Just a few short days ago, LeBron James looked like the stars were aligned for LeBron James to win his 5th NBA MVP award. Stephen A. Smith went out on multiple outlets and proclaimed that LeBron was a lock to finally take home the award again because he is the most durable and dependable player in the league.
Well, the durability angle is out the window for the 36-year-old James after this new injury. The King is out indefinitely. Here’s how to make sense of this major shake-up in the NBA MVP race and where to find the best betting values.
The Bigs Take Control of the Board
Nikola Jokic +110
Nikola Jokic finds himself at the top of the betting odds leaderboard at +110. He’s the only player in the current top 3 without missing multiple games to injury. It also helps that Jokic is having an incredible season.
If you already placed a ticket on Jokic, you are feeling great now. If you haven’t, this is not the time to do so. There’s much better value farther down this list.
Joel Embiid +550
It looked like Embiid’s injury was going to effectively take Philadelphia’s big man out of this MVP race. Instead, LeBron’s injury puts him right back into the thick of it. Embiid has jump-started his game this season with big surges in his field goal and three-point percentages from previous seasons.
You could bet on him if you are very confident that he will be back soon and will not get hurt again. You should pass, like I am, if that premise worries you at all.
Former MVPs to fade
LeBron James (+550)
You should place a bet on LeBron if you think he’ll be back sooner than most others would with a similar injury, and you think the Lakers will falter without him.
There should be enough season left for LeBron to make an epic return and get back into this race. If you like this angle, wait on it. His odds will only increase as other players stake their claim in his absence.
Giannis Antetekounpo (+750)
Giannis is still undoubtedly one of the best players in the NBA. But I would not touch this one. Winning three straight MVP awards is something that has only been done by guys named Wilt, Russell, and Bird.
Giannis and the Bucks would need to be better than last year for him to take home this award again, and that’s just not what we’re seeing.
James Harden +1100
You bet James Harden because you think he’s now the best player in the NBA. You bet him if you think that the long absence of Kevin Durant along with Harden’s reinventing himself into the best passing point guard in the NBA will push voters over the top for Harden. Stat lovers will cry unfairness when the NBA award winner is announced, but Harden won’t win it because Kyrie Irving is just too good.
Best values at point
When you place a futures bet, you go for the big bucks. These are the guys that are really worth the bet at this point in the season:
Damian Lillard +1100
Dame’s late game heroics are becoming the stuff of legends in the NBA, and he’s not going to stop any time soon.
The Blazers are comfortably in the playoff picture at the moment, even with missing their second-best scorer, C.J. McCollum for a long stretch. If you like Dame for MVP, I would place it soon. I see this line going in the wrong direction as Dame plays the stretch run.
Stephen Curry +1600
You play Curry at this point in the season if you think he will put the Warriors on his back and take them to the playoffs. Since they are currently sitting in the 9th spot in the West, that seems possible.
He’s got almost identical stats to when he won his last MVP award. Now is the time to strike as any increase in the Warriors standing will lower Steph’s MVP odds.
Luka Doncic +1800
Luka was the betting favorite when the season opened. The odds he is currently sporting are very tempting.
His stats match up with anyone, as does his undeniable impact to his team. Luka is another guy you should place sooner rather than later as the Mavericks climb up the standings.
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