Sheridan: 2021 NBA MVP Odds Posted With No Love For LeBron

Posted By Chris Sheridan on October 13, 2020
2021 NBA MVP odds LeBron Luka Doncic Giannis

Just two days after winning his fourth NBA title while declaring, “I want my respect,” LeBron James was listed as the seventh most likely winner of next season’s MVP award.

The race to be first with MVP odds was won by PointsBet, which has back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the favorite at +350. Giannis is followed by Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks +450, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors (+600), Anthony Davis of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers (+700) and James Harden of the Houston Rockets (+700).

Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers has the same odds as LeBron at +900.

No player has won three consecutive MVP awards since Larry Bird from 1984-86, so Antetokounmpo would be in rare company if he was to win it next season for a Bucks team that underperformed in the playoffs and could trade Eric Bledsoe and/or Khris Middleton.

2021 NBA MVP odds

Regular Season MVP

Game
(Eastern Time)
(EST)
Giannis Antetokounmpo
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+600
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+350
Luka Doncic
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+600
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+450
Anthony Davis
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+700
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+700
LeBron James
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+700
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+900
Steph Curry
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+1000
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+600
Kawhi Leonard
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+1200
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+900
Kevin Durant
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+1600
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+1200
Jimmy Butler
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+2000
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+6000
James Harden
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+2000
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+700
Nikola Jokic
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+2000
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+2500
Damien Lillard
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+2000
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+3000
Jayson Tatum
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+2000
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+1200
Joel Embiid
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+4000
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+2000
Kyrie Irving
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+4000
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+5000
Paul George
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+5000
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+10000

No love for LeBron

James has won the award four times, most recently in 2012-13 when he was a member of the Miami Heat. He was the only player aside from Antetokounmpo to receive first place votes in the most recent balloting, and anyone who watched the NBA Finals gained a greater appreciation for just how great this freak of nature is. The Lakers will retain their core for next season, so James will be back with virtually the same team that just brought Los Angeles a championship for the first time in a decade.

So the placement of him as the seventh choice is curious.

“For James, part of the problem is his success in the playoffs, and what he wants to do is make the playoffs and turn it up from there, whereas Davis should be more motivated to produce in the regular season and put up better numbers,” said Andrew Mannino, Director of Risk Management at PointsBet. “It’s not that we don’t think he has a shot at it. He clearly does. But when you look at guys like Giannis, Curry and Luka, they are in a spot to stand out more and accumulate numbers, and those monster stat lines will put them in a stronger position with voters.”

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Beasts of the East

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets is one spot below James/Leonard at +1200, and when he returns it will be the first time he has played since tearing his Achilles tendon during the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant and Kyrie Irving (on the board at +5000) are part of a Nets team that is favored by some sites in the legalized US sports gambling market to win the Eastern Conference.

Still, nobody yet knows when exactly the next NBA season will begin, and what changes might come to different teams through trades and free agency. The players on PointBet’s list include two members of the Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid (+2000) and Ben Simmons (+10000), who could be traded if 76ers ownership believes it is time for the franchise to move forward without them paired together under incoming coach Doc Rivers.

“We have to book the lines with where they are now,” Mannino said. “Trades are speculation, and the lines on Embiid and Simmons are a reflection of what we think will be a stronger Eastern Conference, especially with a resurgent Brooklyn team. It gives them a taller ladder to climb.”

Longshots

The only other former MVP on the board that was not mentioned above is Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets at +10000. Still to be determined is who will be the coach in Houston after Mike D’Antoni‘s contract expired. Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are the leading contenders, ESPN reported today.

Other players on the board with uncertain futures with their current teams include Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder at +15000 and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors at +25000 – the same odds as incoming rookie LaMelo Ball – who has not even been drafted yet.

“[Ball] is an outsider for sure, but the opportunity is there for him because of the talent and because of the name. He resonates with people,” Mannino said.

Other players with long odds include Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets at +8000, Zion Williamson of the Pelicans at +10000 and Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers at +10000. Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, who just put on a show in the NBA playoffs, is +6000.

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