Favorites to Win the NBA MVP

With a little over a month remaining in the 2018-19 NBA season, the race for playoff spots is fierce. Another interesting race is that for the league’s Most Valuable Player. Coming off his first MVP season a year ago, Houston’s James Harden appeared to be a lock for this year’s award too. His blistering scoring average (36.7 ppg) and his string of 32 straight 30-point-plus games brings back memories of Wilt Chamberlain.

But, this year’s road to the Maurice Podoloff Trophy is far from a one-man race. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo has put together an MVP type season for what is the best team in the NBA right now.

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In any other year, Oklahoma City’s Paul George would be a frontrunner to win the league MVP as would Denver’s Nikola Jokic. A healthy Joel Embiid would certainly be involved in the MVP discussion and one can never leave out the King himself, LeBron James.

With all that said, here’s a look at the most recent odds to win this year’s NBA MVP:

The Year of the Freak

In a matter of just a few weeks, Antetokounmpo has gone from second fiddle to Harden to the favorite at -125. The 6-foot-11-inch Greek Freak ranks in the top ten in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and field goal percentage.

Antetokounmpo scores 27.1 points a game, averages 12.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and shoots an incredible 58.9 percent from the floor. He is equally adept posting up on the low block as he is leading the fast break or pulling up for a long-range 3-pointer.

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What makes Antetokounmpo even more impressive is the fact that he is doing it without another bona fide superstar on his team. Khris Middleton (17.6 ppg), Malcolm Brogdon (16.1), and Eric Bledsoe (15.9) are all great players, but none of them are Chris Paul to Harden or Russell Westbrook to George.

The Greek Freak makes the Bucks go, and go they do to the tune of a 48-15 record after 63 games. That is the NBA’s best and that is why Antetokounmpo is the favorite to win the MVP.

Harden Part II

A year ago, Harden led the NBA scoring 30.4 points a game during the regular season. He also averaged 8.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds and, more importantly, led the Houston Rockets to the NBA’s best overall record (65-17).

It was a franchise record number of wins for the Rockets and it earned Houston the No. 1 seed in the NBA Western Conference playoffs. In the end, Houston would bow out to eventual champion Golden State.

A year later now, Harden is averaging nearly 37 points a game and is just shooting the lights out. The Rockets started the new season slowly and then Chris Paul got hurt. Harden took over and, like Antetokounmpo, made the Rockets go.

Harden has helped Houston turn around its season moving the Rockets up to fifth place in the West. Houston is now just one game out of third place. Even with Paul back in the lineup, Harden has still continued to dominate. In his last two games, Harden has hit 14 3-pointers and missed just one of 27 free throws. He scored 58 in a win over Miami and another 42 in a victory over Boston. Harden now sits at +110 to win the MVP.

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What about Me?

Unfortunately for Paul George, he will likely get left behind in a season where he is averaging a career-high 28.6 points per game. George also grabs 8.1 rebounds a game and dishes out 4.3 assists in addition to shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.

George’s Oklahoma City Thunder are in third place in the Western Conference and in the perfect position to meet Golden State in a conference final. George, who has some value at +600, would need a near miracle to pass Harden and Antetokounmpo to win the MVP.

That’s the beauty of it though. With a month left in the regular season and an entire postseason to go, anything can happen.

 

Here’s a look at the updated odds to win the NBA’s Most Valuable Player:

Giannis Antetokounmpo            -125

James Harden                                    +110

Paul George                                    +600

LeBron James                                    +3300

Stephen Curry                                    +3300

Joel Embiid                                    +3300

Nikola Jokic                                     +4000

Kevin Durant                                    +5000

Article by Rick Bouch

Posted March 5, 2019

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