Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James
- One book has opened up 2018-19 NBA MVP odds.
- LeBron James is the early favorite at +300 to take home the hardware to Los Angeles.
- James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis make up the next group at +400 before a large gap to +1000.
With most of the big names in the NBA agreeing to contracts in the first few days of free agency, one book has wasted no time in posting MVP odds for the upcoming season. James Harden just took home his first MVP for his impressive 2017-18 season. His odds were +1000 the day before the season began, which are surprisingly the third-longest odds for an NBA MVP since the 2006-07 season.
Last offseason, LeBron James moved from +750 to +400, which tied him with Kawhi Leonard for the preseason favorite. We also saw how fickle these odds can be based on early season performances, as Giannis Antetokounmpo moved from +1000 to +250 after just one week.
This year, King James is alone atop the list at +300 in his new home.
Even though we’ll surely see varying odds as other books open in the coming weeks, it’s fairly safe to say that LeBron will probably have the best or tied for the best odds in the league. He has the potential to turn the Lakers from a 35-win team into a 55+ win team in the mighty Western Conference. It would be his first MVP in six years, but with the change of scenery and accompanying narrative, there are plenty of reasons to take a shot on LeBron this year.
Right after him we have the Beard, the Brow and the Greek Freak all at +400. I remember thinking Harden would have a tough time putting up the individual statistics to win the award last season with the addition of Chris Paul, but I was way off. Even though Harden’s assists per game dropped from 11.2 to 8.8, he scored more than 30 points per game for the first time in his career. His Rockets also won 65 games, easily taking home the top spot in the Western Conference. There’s no reason he can’t put up the same stats this season, but there’s no denying the West just got even tougher.
Anthony Davis carried the Pelicans in DeMarcus Cousins’ absence last season, putting up some monster stats en route to a playoff berth. Now with Boogie gone, he’ll be expected to do the same thing. Betting on him for a season-long award must be a bit scary, however, considering he heads to the locker room on a nightly basis.
Antetokounmpo became the early favorite last season, but eventually his stats came back to earth and the Bucks finished with a relatively underwhelming 44-38 record. He was still a much improved player and finished around 27-10-5 a game, but he’ll probably need to score even more and have his Bucks put up a fight in the LeBron-less Eastern Conference this year.
After those three, there is a big gap to Kevin Durant at +1000. I’m still of the mindset that it would be very hard to give Durant, or any other Warrior, the MVP. Take one of their stars away and the Warriors are still the best team in the league. I’m not a voter, but I think it would take some crazy numbers for any of them to win.
The controversial Kawhi is tied with Steph Curry at +1500 for next spot on the list. Leonard had much better odds last year, but given his current situation, it’s not surprising to see the drop.
The Sixers top two youngsters, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, can be found at +2000 along with their biggest competition’s star, Kyrie Irving. Russell Westbrook is also listed at +2000, which seems rather low for someone of his statistical potential. Perhaps this is due to the fact that he came in just fifth place despite averaging a triple-double again last year. The Thunder’s 48 wins were a handful lower than their preseason win total, so they’ll need to overperform this season for Westbrook to have a chance.
One funny name is Lonzo Ball at +10000. It’s still a long-shot payout, but who would be betting on him right now? Do people think he can win the MVP on the same team as LeBron? Are people expecting him to be traded for Kawhi and win the award as a Spur? To each his own, but there’s no way I’m betting on him for MVP.
Keep your eyes out as we’ll update this situation as odds change and more books begin posting them.