NBA Playoffs Futures: Breaking Down the Value in NBA Finals MVP Odds
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: The 2018 NBA Finals MVP trophy.
We’re still weeks away from the NBA Finals, but it’s never too early to find betting value on players to win the Finals MVP.
With the Conference finals just few days away, it’s tough to find opportunities for a long shot payout when betting on teams to win the NBA title this late in the season; that ship has sailed at this point.
However, with BetMGM providing advance odds for the Finals MVP, there’s an alternative method of betting on a team to win the championship with higher odds.
The higher the risk, the higher the reward, but in this case it’s worth it. Since the winner of the Finals MVP typically comes from the winning team, you’re essentially picking the best player from the team you think has value to win the NBA title.
Kevin Durant +300
The Phoenix Suns were the first team to advance to the Conference Finals after a second round sweep of the Denver Nuggets but with six other teams still competing for the chance to make the Conference Finals.
Let’s jump ahead and try to find value for potential Finals MVP candidates.
If it’s not obvious to you by now, I’ll state it clearly: Kevin Durant is the best player remaining in the postseason.
The deck was stacked against Durant in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Kyrie Irving was missing in action with a sprained ankle and James Harden was far from 100% as he played on a hamstring strain that limited his movement.
Great players respond in big moments and Durant put the Nets on his back with an all-time great postseason performance: 49 points on 16-of-23 shooting, 17 rebounds and 10 assists while playing all 48 minutes.
Performances like that make Durant the favorite for Finals MVP and the Nets are in the driver’s seat to win the series with Game 7 at Barclays center.
At 3-1 with the season on the line, Durant’s odds likely won’t get any longer than where they are now.
Donovan Mitchell +800
I want to read a list of names for you.
Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Jerry West and LeBron James.
Those are the only players in the history of the NBA who have a higher postseason scoring average than Donovan Mitchell. At 28.5 points per game throughout his postseason career and 31.6 points per game in the playoffs, Mitchell is proving that he can elevate his game when it matters most. That alone could be enough to make Mitchell a decent flyer to win Finals MVP.
There is a risk here however as the Jazz are one game away from elimination entering Friday’s Game 6. The situation would be dire if Leonard were in the lineup, but without him, the Jazz are 2-point road favorites in Game 6 and should be laying 5-7 points in Game 7 at home.
The Jazz are currently sitting at +500 to win the NBA title, so betting Mitchell to win MVP provides you with a small amount of value.
The Suns would be a difficult matchup for the Jazz if they advance, but the biggest thing they have in their favor is shooting variance as they’re making an average of 17 3-pointers per game.
When the Jazz are making their 3s, they can beat anyone in the West or the East. If the Jazz can advance we would also expect to see the return of Mike Conley, which should give them an additional playmaker and take the load off Mitchell, keeping him fresher as he’s still playing through an ankle injury.
There is some value here as Mitchell is Utah’s best player, and if they’re going to win, it will be because of him.
Chris Paul +900
This is my personal favorite and one that I personally bet last week at a much better number. The NBA Finals MVP is awarded by voters and that means it will always involve a narrative.
If the Suns can make and win the NBA Finals, who has a better narrative than Chris Paul?
He’s arguably the greatest point guard of this generation and a future Hall of Famer who rank fifth on the all-time assists list, has made 10 All-NBA appearances, 11 All-Star teams, and nine All-Defensive teams.
From the Hornets to the Clippers, Rockets, Thunder and now the Suns, Paul is a proven winner. There isn’t a more decorated active NBA player who has not win an NBA title than Paul and it would certainly play a role in the narrative that voters will use when making their decision.
Although Devin Booker leads the Suns in scoring and is second in MVP odds at +450 behind Durant, Paul’s impact is responsible for this team’s success.
Leading the team in many advanced metrics like PER (22.3), BPM (5.7), VORP (0.6) and WS (1.7), Paul is the team’s best player and if the Suns could win the NBA title, there’s no doubt in my mind that voters will reward him. Much of the value here stems from Booker leading the team in points this season, but I’m not sure Booker’s scoring impact can overcome what Paul brings to the table.
The Suns appear to be in the driver’s seat to win the Western Conference provided that Paul is in the lineup.
Surveying the landscape of the rest of the Western Conference playoff race, the Clippers suffered a devastating blow to their championship aspirations when Kawhi Leonard got injured.
A rested Suns team should have an advantage against the Clippers without Leonard or the Jazz team who need to win in seven games.
I wrote about this previously, but historically, teams that play a full seven games don’t fare well in the following series. Teams that win Game 7 are now 32-48 (40%) straight up in Game 1 of the following series, but more importantly, teams that win Game 7 are 33-46 (41%) straight up in the following series.
If the Jazz and Clippers go seven games, the Suns should have a substantial edge to make the NBA Finals against two teams that gave it their all to advance. If the Suns can make the NBA Finals, you’ll have a positive expected value wager with Chris Paul at +900 to win Finals MVP as we’d see a substantial drop in odds at that point.
Joel Embiid +1100
After blowing back-to-back 20 point leads, the Philadelphia 76ers are down 3-2 to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and need to win the next two games to keep their season alive. If the 76ers have any hope of making that happen, it’ll be Joel Embiid leading the charge as he’s averaging 32 points per game along with 13 rebounds and 4.6 assists against the Hawks.
Embiid is a nightmare matchup for all the remaining postseason teams, but the key component is health as he’s still playing through a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee. Embiid has been productive despite the injury, so as long as he’s on the floor the 76ers have a chance. Of course, the 76ers are just one game away from being eliminated from the postseason all together.
They are 2-point favorites in Game 6 and will likely be 7-point favorites in Game 7 all before reaching the Eastern Conference Finals against either the Nets or Bucks.
Overall the 76ers are facing such an uphill battle that, you’d be better off betting their adjusted series prices against the Hawks followed by whoever they play in the conference finals and Finals and rolling it over as opposed to taking a shot on Embiid.
The combination of Embiid’s health, the 76ers struggling to close games and the tough road ahead of them makes this a bet I’m not very interested in.