WNBA MVP Odds & Picks: Is It A’ja Wilson’s to Lose, or Will a Longshot Emerge?

WNBA MVP Odds & Picks: Is It A’ja Wilson’s to Lose, or Will a Longshot Emerge? article feature image

Via Getty Images/Action Network Design. Pictured: A’ja Wilson (left) and Napheesa Collier (right).

The WNBA is a younger league than the NBA, which means there is less history to go on when it comes to awards. Last season, the MVP race was insanely close, with Breanna Stewart just barely eking out the win over Alyssa Thomas and A'ja Wilson. The first place votes were almost split exactly even between the three of them, and it's probably the closest MVP vote we will ever see.

From the WNBA's founding in 1997 to 2007, only five different players captured MVPs. Then in 2008, Candace Parker entered the WNBA and became the most recent rookie to win WNBA MVP. Two years later, Lauren Jackson won MVP in 2010 and became the most recent player to win three WNBA MVPs.

Since then, four players have won two MVPs before being unable to capture their third: Stewart, Wilson, Elena Delle Donne and Candace Parker. It's hard to maintain dominance across any league as players get older, but with voter fatigue built in and a desire to reward new players, it's becoming increasingly difficult for someone to capture that third WNBA MVP.

Here are some stats on the last 15 WNBA MVPs:

  • Every single winner has finished at least 10th in a previous season's MVP vote. All but two finished in the top 10 the prior year as well.
  • The age range for winners was from 23 to 31, and each player was in at least her third season.
  • They averaged at least 13.9 points per game (ppg) their pervious season and at least 15.5 ppg the year they won. 11 of 15 averaged at least 17 ppg.
  • An astonishing 12 of 15 won Rookie of the Year. Of the three that didn't, one finished second, and the other two received votes for an award as a rookie.
  • Their team won the equivalent of 24 games in a 40-game season. 11 of the 12 most recent winners have played for a team that won the equivalent of 28 games.
  • Each one shot at least 46% from the field.
  • The last 10 winners have each finished among the top two in Win Shares in the WNBA, which is partially a reflection of overall team quality as well.
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WNBA MVP Odds & Picks

Let's run through the 10 players who finished top 10 last season in MVP voting with their odds on FanDuel and their age.

The Favorites

Breanna Stewart +550 | 29

Stewart won last year, won rookie of the year and now has two MVPs. She has finished top three in MVP voting for five straight seasons.

A'ja Wilson +125 | 27

Stewart and Wilson finished first and third in last year's MVP vote, both won rookie of the year, and both have two previous MVPs to their name. They play for the two best teams in the WNBA and are the favorites for a reason.

Stewart has already established herself as an all-time great, and Wilson is pushing herself up there as well. This year has the best chance in a long while to have someone grab her third WNBA MVP.

For Stewart, no player has even won back to back MVPs since Cynthia Cooper, which is likely why her odds are so much longer than Wilson's. The Wilson case is easy because she is the best player on the best team in the WNBA.

Midtier and Longshots

Alyssa Thomas +1200 | 32

Thomas finished second last year with the most first-place votes. She made Second Team All Defense in her fourth season and has really come into her own these last two seasons. She is also going to be 32, averaged only 15.5 ppg last season and seems unlikely to finish as highly again.

Napheesa Collier +4100 | 27

Collier meets all the base criteria because she won Rookie of the Year, averaged 21.5 ppg last season and falls in the perfect age range. The Lynx's win total is set at 16.5, and they are not expected to be contenders, so jumping to 28 wins may be a stretch.

Satou Sabally +2500 | 25 & Arike Ogunbowale +3500 | 26

Sabally finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in her first WNBA season, and Ogunbowale finished second. Yet, the costars for Dallas have them projected to be really good.

However, the problem for both is their lack of efficiency. While Sabally shot just 43.5% from the field, Ogunbowale didn't top 40%.

Chelsea Gray +4500 | 31

In another world, Gray might be the best player on one of the best teams in the WNBA. However, she is perpetually locked into the second spot behind Wilson, enters the season hurt and is on the tail end age wise. This is an easy pass.

Jewel Loyd +2500 | 30 & Nneka Ogwumike +3000 | 33

The Storm have the third-highest win total in the WNBA. Adding Nneka Ogwumike makes them dangerous, and there's a reason Jim Turvey thinks they are a sneaky pick to win it all. Ogwumike was incredible last year, and this team will win enough games that both players will be in the conversation.

However, I'm passing on both. I'm passing on Ogwumike due to age because we just haven't seen someone at her age win MVP since 2006. Loyd is done in because she is the second-best player on her team now, and her shooting efficiency last year was horrendous.

Last year, Loyd was one of the least efficient players in the WNBA, and her Usage Rate bump led to her shooting 37% from the field and 36% from 3. As her Usage Rate went up, her True Shooting Percentage went down. Assuming her Usage Rate normalizes back to the 26.5% it was when the Storm were a playoff team, that's an All-Star caliber player — but not an MVP.

Jackie Young +4500 | 26

Similar to Gray, there is just no room here for Young to contend for MVP as the third-best player on her team.

Potential Outlier

Caitlin Clark +1200 | 22

There is one more candidate who needs to be mentioned, and that's the candidate with third-best odds, rookie Caitlin Clark at +1200. These odds are insanely high, but Clark could come in and just dominate from the start and be the first player to win MVP in her first season since Parker.

However, the top end of the WNBA is insanely good, the adjustment is difficult, and it's asking a lot even for her to be the best player right off the bat. I'll have some Clark bets down the line, but for now, this line is too rich.


So much of the WNBA talent is concentrated on two teams — the Aces and the Liberty.

I keep staring at this, and it's hard to envision someone other than A'ja Wilson winning MVP. She is the back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year, and she is clearly the best player in the WNBA. Voters may be hesitant to give her a third MVP, but I think it could very well be Wilson making even more history.

Nonetheless, I'm instead attracted to a longshot.

I'm betting Napheesa Collier to win WNBA MVP at +5000 on DraftKings for .25 units. Collier is the clear best player on a team that has mixed around its talent and might be better than people think. She could be primed for a season like Thomas last year, where she is talked about even more for the MVP.

If the Lynx can improve their win total this season into the mid 20s, she should be a lock to finish in the top three of the MVP race after finishing fourth last year.

WNBA MVP Pick: Napheesa Collier +5000 (DraftKings)

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