Photo credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard
- See Kawhi Leonard's MVP odds at a variety of sportsbooks below, along with Matt Moore’s analysis on whether they’re offering betting value.
Kawhi Leonard NBA MVP Odds
Note: This snippet is from Matt Moore’s larger MVP piece. See his analysis for all major candidate here. Odds as of Thursday, October 17.
It’s odd that Leonard, the two-time and reigning Finals MVP, not only has odds this low, but that I can’t find strong enough reason to move him higher.
Leonard is undeniably in the conversation for “Best Player in the NBA.” He has prior vote credentials, finishing third in the epic 2017 race. He is the best player on the team widely regarded as the best team in the league entering the season.
He is slowly managing to rewrite his narrative from withdrawn, silent, stoic figure to “fun guy” from California looking to build his own empire by power-brokering free agency behind the scenes.
There is a thought that Leonard might rest too much this season. The math on that is complicated.
On the one hand, Leonard still had troubles with his leg in the playoffs; it flared up several times, and it looked like he was hobbling in each round. He has a proven path of success in resting 22 games, as he did last season.
However, the Clippers said there’s no such plan in place for Leonard this season. He’s now two years removed from a very confusing, very nebulous leg injury. Let’s say he misses only 16 games due to injury and rest. That six-game differential, for whatever reason, probably shifts the conversation and makes voters feel more confident in voting for him.
Bear in mind that Leonard averaged more points and rebounds last season per game than he did in 2017 when he finished third. His shooting wasn’t quite as efficient, but that only leaves room for growth.
The three reasons he wasn’t in the conversation last season were: He missed more games than the other candidates, his numbers weren’t astronomical and (the biggest reason) the Raptors weren’t the story last year until the playoffs.
The Bucks were the No. 1 seed rising up with LeBron’s departure; the Warriors were still expected to win it all.
Leonard trying to make the Clippers into a serious force, both in basketball and in business (something even Chris Paul and Blake Griffin couldn’t do), is a story voters can get behind, and the Clippers have a very real chance of landing the No. 1 record in the league. Though I lean towards their under.