2019-20 NBA Point-Spread Values: Ranking Las Vegas’s Most Valuable Players

2019-20 NBA Point-Spread Values: Ranking Las Vegas’s Most Valuable Players article feature image

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: James Harden and Steph Curry

  • With help from CG Technology, we've compiled a list of the NBA's most valuable players to the spread for the 2019-20 NBA season.

And just like that, another league starts up. We’re entering prime gambling season and nightly NBA games will be a welcome sight to folks who have already soured on football.

The NBA, as we know, is a star-driven league. You may have a fundamentally sound team, but it’s usually the team with the superstar that wins at the end of the day.

With that said, the stars in this league can be worth a bundle of points to the spread. To find out just how many points each player is worth, I reached out to William Bernanke, Risk Analyst at Las Vegas’s CG Technology.

Each player’s value is based on their current situation: team, teammates, position, coach, offensive system, etc. A Tier Four player may actually be “better” at basketball than a Tier Three player, but not worth as much because of other star players surrounding him or having a very good backup. Not all players in the same tier are created equally.

Other oddsmakers may have differing opinions, but these should serve as a good guidelines as far as what to expect to see for line movement if a player misses a game. And let’s face it, star players in the NBA have been known to miss some games …

Note that Kevin Durant was kept off the list due to his beef with Matt Moore season-long injury.

Tier One (5+ Points)

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • James Harden
  • Steph Curry
  • Anthony Davis

The Greek Freak was as freakish as ever last year, posting career highs in each of the three major statistical categories en route to winning the MVP. This year, he enters the season as MVP favorite and will look to lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals in what is a pretty weak Eastern Conference comparably speaking.

Giannis has some solid teammates, but his skill set is not being replaced by anyone if he has to miss a game here or there. Last season, the Bucks’ spread fell by 3-5.5 points in games he missed, with the lower end mostly coming in games vs. bad teams. Now that his stock is at an all-time high, it’s safe to say that he’ll be up around five points for any games he misses.

Despite swapping Chris Paul out for Russell Westbrook, James Harden’s value is also at an all-time high. Some folks are skeptical about how Westbrook will fit on the Rockets, but Harden proved last year that having an All-Star point guard alongside him isn’t going to take away from any of his value. Over 36 points per game? Are you kidding me?

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A new chapter in Steph Curry’s career storybook is about to unfold. Bye-bye Kevin Durant, bye-bye Klay Thompson (for most of the year), bye-bye superteam, bye-bye being an odds-on preseason title favorite.

Though the Warriors aren’t going to be as good in what has become a loaded Western Conference, Curry has a chance to put up some crazy numbers. He’s got a solid case to become the MVP again, and if he has to miss some time, it’s the D’Angelo Russell-Draymond Green show.

I hope you jot down Anthony Davis’s spread value on a piece of paper because if there’s one person you can guarantee will miss at least a few games this year, it’s Anthony Davis.

Davis is what some folks would consider a slight upgrade over Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee, though the latter is going to be a massively improved player this year thanks to his fake injury play. There’s no guarantee the Lakers will live up to the hype this year, as superstar personalities have the potential to clash, but Davis is the best teammate LeBron has ever had.

Tier Two (4 Points)

  • LeBron James
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Damian Lillard

Oh no! For the first time of his career, LeBron James is not the most valuable player on his team. The King has been worth up to seven points or so during some periods of his career, but now takes a back seat to The Brow. Bernanke cites Davis’s rim-protecting abilities as a reason why Davis could be worth more than James, as that was an area of weakness for last year’s underwhelming Lakers squad.

This is the first time James has had a truly elite big man to play with (if you’re not counting Zydrunas Ilgauskas). Chris Bosh was good, but not this good. And while James does possess a superhuman-esque build and athleticism, he’s going to turn 35 at the end of the year. He has to start getting worse at some point, I think …

Another new Staples Center citizen, Kawhi Leonard, checks in at four points. This is someone that I imagine would get some arguments to join the ranks in the top tier, especially following his championship run with the Raptors. However, his value takes a bit of a hit considering his new “duo” partner, Paul George, is a fairly similar player.

Often considered an underrated star, Damian Lillard is not underrated on this list. Lillard certainly has some help alongside him in CJ McCollum so it wouldn’t be surprising if some were arguing for Lillard to move down a tier, if anything.

Tier Three (2-3 Points)

  • Nikola Jokic
  • Joel Embiid
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kemba Walker
  • Blake Griffin
  • Trae Young
  • Bradley Beal
  • Paul George
  • Devin Booker
  • Luka Doncic
  • Jamal Murray
  • Karl Anthony Towns
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Gregg Popovich

This is sort of what I was alluding to in the intro when I said not all players in the same tier are created equally. Trae Young ≠ Paul George. Jamal Murray ≠ Russell Westbrook.

The “best” player in this group is certainly debatable, though I’m guessing George, Westbrook, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic may be the top vote-getters.

Guys like Young and Devin Booker may not be the all-around players that George or Jokic are, but guess what? Their teams suck. They lack a strong cast of supporting players and coaches that a lot of these other players have. If you toss Russ on the Suns or Hawks, he’d become a Tier One or Two player.

One player I’m particularly intrigued about is Luka Doncic. The second-year point guard was exceptional in his rookie season and oozes potential going forward. The Mavericks have middling expectations this year, but if Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis can mesh well together, they could be a surprising team in a deep Western Conference. If that happens, Doncic may find himself higher on the list next year.

What’s this now, Coach Pop?! I suppose he’s pretty decent in his own right. In fact, Bernanke cites Popovich as the reason why he left DeMar DeRozan off this list entirely. Yes, that’s right. You will not find DeRozan anywhere on this list because the Spurs’ system is so efficient that they can plug in backups and lesser-caliber players and still get the job done.

Tier Four (1-2 Points)

  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Ben Simmons
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Goran Dragic
  • Zion Williamson
  • Mike Conley
  • Klay Thompson
  • Pascal Siakam

We have a motley crew of players in Tier Four, ranging from a 7’3″ unicorn coming off a knee injury to a nearly 300-pound rookie already sidelined with a knee injury to a sharp-shooting splash brother who will miss most of the season with a knee injury …

As a Celtics fan, I’m quite curious to see how Jayson Tatum does in his first full season without Kyrie Irving. There’s plenty of potential, but there are still a number of players (Walker, Brown, Hayward) who could get in the way of Tatum becoming the star in Boston.

The Utah Jazz are many folks’ dark horse to emerge from the Western Conference and the addition of Mike Conley is a big reason why. Conley has never gotten a ton of media attention — heck, he’s never even been an All-Star in his 12-year career — but is often named one of the league’s most underrated players. Playing with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell limits his value a little, but this change of scenery could lead to some great things for Conley and the Jazz.

Tier Five (1 Point)

  • Al Horford
  • Kyle Lowry
  • Kevin Love
  • Andre Drummond
  • John Wall (Likely to miss entire season)
  • Draymond Green
  • Lou Williams
  • LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Donovan Mitchell
  • CJ McCollum
  • Steven Adams
  • Jrue Holiday
  • Zach LaVine
  • Julius Randle
  • Myles Turner
  • Khris Middleton
  • Terry Rozier
  • D’Angelo Russell
  • Montrezl Harrell
  • Ricky Rubio
  • Buddy Hield
  • De’Aaron Fox
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Derrick White
  • Chris Paul
  • Danilo Gallinari

A lot of guys in Tier Five, eh? This Tier really has a wide range of players — I’ll go ahead and say that Chris Paul and Terry Rozier or Derrick White are the bookends in terms of overall skill, at least in my opinion.

Most of these players are not the best player on their own team, but rather the 2nd-, 3rd- or even 4th-best. They may not get the ball in their hands with 10 seconds left and the game tied, but serve as solid role players, facilitators, secondary scoring options or rim protectors.

I’d argue that McCollum deserves to be closer to Lillard than he is on the list — perhaps Tier Four for McCollum and Tier Three for Lillard. I’d also argue that CP3, though older and past his prime, will be worth more than a point on the Thunder, who now lack a clear “guy.”

Kyle Lowry, whose play has been inconsistent at times, will need to help lead the Raptors along with Pascal Siakam now that Kawhi is gone. I think Lowry has the chance to become more valuable, but could also flounder seeing as this is the first time on the Raptors he’s been without DeRozan or Leonard alongside him.

The last player I’ll touch on is Donovan Mitchell, whose stock likely took a bump due to Conley being added to the Utah backcourt. Mitchell struggled in the playoffs last year, but otherwise had impressive sophomore season. A point guard like Conley could help Mitchell take the next step to becoming one of the league’s elite shooting guards.

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