NBA Finals MVP Picks & Predictions: Is LeBron James the Clear Choice?
Getting Images. Pictured: LeBron James #23, Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Jimmy Butler #22 and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat.
- The Los Angeles Lakers are on the verge of winning their 17th championship in franchise history and LeBron James is the favorite to win his fourth Finals MVP.
- Our staff looked at the NBA Finals MVP odds to see if there is betting value elsewhere on the board, or if James is the best pick.
Looking for updated NBA Finals MVP odds? Click here.
The award for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the Finals is so iconic, that only the league’s greatest winner, Bill Russell, gets to hand it to the winner each year.
It’s an award that symbolizes being the best of the best and LeBron James is the clear favorite to win it this year with -213 odds ahead of Game 1 at PointsBet. While there’s a good chance he could be the most valuable player in this series, does James have the most value on the board?
You can check out the odds below and see our experts’ favorite NBA Finals MVP bets for the Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers series.
NBA Finals MVP Odds
Odds as of Wednesday
|LeBron James||-143 [BetMGM]|
|Anthony Davis||+300 [PointsBet]|
|Jimmy Butler||+900 [PointsBet]|
|Bam Adebayo||+1800 [BetMGM]|
|Goran Dragic||+3500 [FanDuel]|
|Tyler Herro||+5000 [FanDuel]|
NBA Finals MVP Betting Picks
Brandon Anderson: LeBron James (-143)
This is the best series bet on the board. If the Lakers win the Finals, there’s only one MVP possibility.
You know when you see those magicians on TV who can read the judges minds? They ask them to pick a color and a number and a favorite song and then, lo and behold, they’ve predicted the exact combination? That’s not magic. It’s priming.
Before the show ever started, the judges were primed. They saw subtle hints about the number, the color, etc all throughout the day and in the intro video and opening talk, and they were always going to make those choices. The magic was over before the act ever began.
James is the magician.
He knows what’s at stake here. He’s been building this narrative all season. He knows what another title means to his legacy, but he also knows this is his opportunity to be the first Finals MVP for three different franchises. He wants more than just a ring. He wants to be the reason for the ring.
LeBron has been priming media voters for months now. He’s left little bread crumbs about still being the best player in the league, about being overlooked in the MVP race, about his importance as the face of the Lakers franchise. Now it’s time for the magic trick to pay off.
You know James is going to have the numbers. And you know he’s going to give that extra 10% in crunch time, hunt that one moment, that one block, that one statement we’ll always remember.
You’re crazy to bet the Lakers to win the series at around -350. Betting LeBron to win Finals MVP is a Lakers series bet, and it’s darn near +EV odds.
This is a gift from LeBron. He’s been preparing it for us all year.
Raheem Palmer: LeBron James (-143)
Handicapping the 2020 Finals MVP Award just requires a process of elimination.
Looking back at the 10 previous Finals MVP Award winners, there’s a clear trend. The player on the winning team, who ranks first or second in Usage Rate has won eight of the past 10 Finals awards, with the exception of Andre Iguodala in 2015 and Kawhi Leonard in 2014.
Adebayo could certainly be the exception to this trend as well with his impact on the defensive end guarding Davis and James, while doing just enough offensively to get him the MVP award should the Heat win.
He has arguably been their best best player, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll have the same numbers against LA’s front court as he did against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were thin in the front court with Daniel Theis, Robert Williams and Enes Kanter. LA’s front court is a different animal.
I’m crossing out
This means we’re down to Lebron James (31.1%), Anthony Davis (29.1%), Jimmy Butler (24.6%) and Goran Dragic (27.2%) since their playoff usage rates meet the threshold for consideration. At this point, we’re essentially asking ourselves, what would it take for anyone other than James to win Finals MVP?
The Heat certainly have a chance to win this series, but do we actually believe they will win? I’ve been higher on the Heat than most people, picking them to defeat the Celtics and picking them to win Game 1 in this series, but I’m having trouble talking myself into them outright winning this series.
Butler and Dragic.
We’re down to just James and Davis.
Even at +300, betting Anthony Davis is tough as he could actually outplay and still lose the award. As Brandon noted (and I learned this the hard way) awards are about narratives and media voters have a tendency to run wild with narrative when James is involved.
It’s why Iguodala won the 2015 Finals MVP Award over Stephen Curry. LeBron was dominant and Iggy was good enough to hold him to 39% shooting. Curry was the best player on the Golden State Warriors and the biggest reason they won, but the narrative won out. Do you really want to be on the wrong side of the narrative this year?
Ten years after the Lakers won the 2009 title in Orlando, James hopes to fulfill Kobe Bryant’s legacy and bring a storied franchise back to relevance by winning another championship … in Orlando. Some things are just destiny no matter how much we fight it.
James will have the highest usage rate on his team and thus, he’ll have the best numbers. It’s hard to imagine voters not giving him the award should the Lakers win so by betting him to win MVP, you’re getting better odds than the series price. As Brandon already stated, Lebron complained about being overlooked for the regular season MVP Award, he won’t be overlooked this time.
Matt Moore: Bam Adebayo (18-1)
I’m not here to bet LeBron. Follow Brandon and Raheem if you want the easy route. But I’ll tell you this: If the Heat win (and they certainly can win), Adebayo will seem like their best player.
If the Heat win, he’ll have the best statistics. If the Heat win, the voters will reward not only a versatile stat line, but his defense of Davis (see: Leonard, Kawhi, 2014, and Iguodala, Andre, 2015).
Adebayo might get bum rushed by Davis’ size and skills, but he’s a tough defender, a great finisher, a wonderful passer, and has range. Over the course of the series, if it seems like the Heat are winning with a collective performance, Bam will stand out even over Butler. I like the value here at 18-1.
Malik Smith: Anthony Davis (+300)
I love the points made by Brandon and Raheem. Narrative plays a massive role in determining who will be the Finals MVP winner. However, narrative cannot overshadow talent, especially when the more talented player is the teammate of the player with a nice narrative. Like Matt, I just can’t bet LeBron at this moment.
James probably could have won league MVP this season if a global pandemic didn’t strike when the King was making his case in March. The Lakers have been dominant because the duo of James and Davis has been too much for opponents to handle.
But I would argue that Davis has been the Lakers’ most consistent scorer in the postseason. While James got most of the attention for his 38-point closeout performance, Davis led all scorers in the Eastern and Western Conference finals with 31.2 points per game. James is still a threat in every aspect of the game, don’t get me wrong, but he doesn’t seem to mind using the attention he gets on every play to set up his teammates.
I’m also not totally sold on the idea that voters want to pick LeBron because of his narrative. If that was the case he would have gotten more than 16 first-place votes. If Davis maintains his play offensively and defensively (and maybe rebounds a little) I think he has a great chance to become the first Lakers’ big man since Shaquille O’Neal to take home the Finals MVP.