NBA MVP ODDS HEADING INTO WEEK 9
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks (+220)
The front-runner on nearly everyone’s MVP ballot as we enter mid-December, the Greek Freak, has taken his game to new levels this season. Giannis has carried his Milwaukee Bucks to a 17-8 record on the year, good for second in the East, and the third best record in the league. Antetokounmpo has always been an athletic freak, standing at nearly 7 foot. Able to attack off the dribble, Giannis has been a tough guard since he entered the league. Yet, this season Giannis has improved on his shooting, the last part of his arsenal to catapult him to NBA greatness. Giannis is shooting a career high 58% from the field, while ranking in the top six league-wide in both scoring and rebounds. Giannis also leads the Bucks in assists (6 per game) and steals (1.5), to round off his stat-stuffing catalogue. Giannis has become the most dominant player in the NBA with the ball in his hands. His defensive prowess, and his team’s record make Giannis the clear favorite for MVP as we sit here today.
2. LeBron James, F, Los Angeles Lakers (+550)
LeBron continues to do LeBron things, averaging 28-7-7 thus far this season. LeBron has suffered through the “Kobe syndrome” for years now, where it is widely accepted that he is the best player in the league. So, instead of awarding LBJ with the MVP every year, they pawn off the award to the next best player. Yet, things are different this time around. James is heading a young, unproven Lakers’ roster, with no other “star” in sight. LeBron doesn’t have another player to hand the ball to for a quarter or a game and say “you take it from here.” The Lakers need LeBron game-in-game-out to make any sort of a playoff push this season. This means LeBron’s MVP odds will only grow with time. If the Lakers can continue to work their way up the Western Conference rankings, LeBron may also works his way to the top of this list.
3. Steph Curry, G, Golden State Warriors (+800)
While some may have Anthony Davis in this slot, a player who is actually runner-up favorite in Vegas at the moment (+500) to win the award, I refuse to reward the title to a player who may not even get his team to the playoffs. So for now, we will slot Stephen Curry here. The two-time recipient of the award is having as good of a season as he ever has. Curry is averaging nearly 30 ppg this season, his second highest scoring total ever over his ten-year career. Curry has been ridiculous from beyond the arc this season, shooting an astonishing 50% from three. The Warriors suffered through a tough stretch this season, for the first time in what feels like a decade. However, once Curry returned from injury, everything seemed to fall back into place. Golden State has now gone 3-1 since Curry’s return to the court, with Curry being the main reason, averaging 29.8/5.3/5.0 over that span.