NBA MVP Odds 2020

MVP Betting Favorites

The NBA is a star-driven league. At the conclusion of the season, the star of all stars is crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP), as voted upon by a panel of 100 media members who are not affiliated with any NBA franchises.

Each member of the panel casts a vote for first to fifth place selections. Each vote counts incrementally towards a players’ total, with first-place votes netting 10 points and fifth-place votes counting for only 1 point.

In the history of NBA MVP voting, only Steph Curry (2015-16) has received every first-place vote from the entire panel to be named MVP unanimously. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award a record six times and LeBron James has won four MVP awards, which makes him the leader among active players.

Since the 1975-76 season, only two players have been named MVP in a season where their team failed to win 50 games. That includes Russell Westbrook in 2016-17, but it has become a rarity for a player from a mediocre team to win the award.

NBA MVP as a futures bet

Betting on the MVP winner is one of the more popular options for outright bets known as “Futures,” which are usually wagers on a season-long outcome such as the NBA champion, NBA division winner, or individual award winners. It’s also possible to bet Over or Under on Team Win totals, i.e. the number of games a team is expected to win during the regular season.

Odds for futures bets are set during the preseason, but will change throughout the season based on news and results.

For the purposes of MVP betting, players will be listed in order of the favorites. So, defending MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (-550 on FanDuel Sportsbook) is considered the huge favorite to win the award.

These odds refer to the potential payout if the bet is successful. So, a $55 bet on Giannis to repeat as champion would pay out a $10 profit. A $10 bet on longshot James Harden (+2900), meanwhile, would pay out $290 profit. These odds are set based on how the book evaluates the market and they can change following each game if players perform well or start to slide.

NBA MVP odds (June 3, 2020)

MVP markets were taken down when the season was suspended in March. They will reopen when (and if) the season resumes. Below is a look at the odds before they were removed.


G. Antetokounmpo
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LeBron James
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Luka Doncic
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James Harden
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Anthony Davis
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Kawhi Leonard
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Damian Lillard
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Nikola Jokic
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MVP Futures Report: March 10, 2020

The Favorites

Giannis Antetokounmpo (-560): We expected that it would take both an injury to Giannis and a big push from LeBron to prevent the Greek Freak from repeating as MVP. Well, both happened over the weekend, although Giannis is likely only going to miss two games after hyper-extending his knee in a loss at the Lakers. Giannis is still leading the league in PER (LeBron is 8th), Defensive Rating (LeBron T-20th), and is second in Win Shares behind James Harden (LeBron is 5th). The Bucks are still capable of posting an historic point differential and the fact that they’ve lost three straight when Giannis sits indicates his value. We could be headed to a photo finish for both the MVP and the best overall record in the NBA.

LeBron James (+450): After outplaying Giannis in a 113-103 win last Friday, LeBron is back in the MVP race. His odds have been cut in half at DraftKings Sportsbook, although some books have him as high as +150 and Giannis at -200. Those with accounts on DK or FanDuel Sportsbook, where LeBron is at +430, would be wise to throw some coin on the Lakers star. LeBron is averaging 25.7 PPG and a league-high 10.6 APG while playing some of the best defense of his career at age 35. Many prospective voters have LeBron leading their ballot after this weekend, so these odds will soon adjust.

The Contenders

Luka Doncic (+2500): FanDuel Sportsbook already had Luka as a distant third behind Giannis and LeBron, and now DK joins by dropping him from +800 to +2300 over the weekend. Doncic has missed 13 games this season with ankle and thumb injuries and the Mavs are 6-7 in those contests. As a second-year player, the reigning Rookie of the Year is in line for an MVP at some point, but is more likely to win the Most Improved Player (+600) at this juncture in his career.

James Harden (+3300): With Russell Westbrook (+10000) making his own case for MVP, Harden’s odds have dropped precipitously from +1200 to +3300 at DK Sportsbook. His Rockets have floundered lately with four straight losses and he was always a relative longshot to win MVP over the true two-way players listed above.

The Longshots

Anthony Davis (+10000): Anthony Davis is the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year and his impact on that end of the floor might take away from LeBron’s chances to win MVP. Davis tops his superstar teammate in Win Shares, Defensive Rating, and is second behind Giannis in Player Efficiency Rating. Of course, anyone who watches Lakers games can tell that LeBron is more valuable as a leader and as one of the greatest offensive maestros in league history.

Nikola Jokic (+10000): The Joker has seen his odds double along with every other longshot now that Giannis and LeBron have separated completely from the pack. Jokic has struggled offensive lately, managing just 8 points in a loss to Cleveland, and his Nuggets have one of the worst defensive ratings in the NBA since the all-star break.

Kawhi Leonard (+10000): The Clippers seem to have hit another gear with a couple pieces added and everyone healthy. Their balance is certainly a case against consider Kawhi as MVP since he’s been less efficient on both ends of the floor this season and is likely to play around 60 games once again.

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Where you can bet on the MVP legally

Sports betting is currently legal at a regulated sportsbook in the following states:

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia

Legislation is on the table in a number of states with more states sure to legalize sports betting in the upcoming years.

Residents of Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have access to online sportsbooks, including the platforms created by industry titans DraftKings and FanDuel. William Hill and other online books also offer great opportunities to bet on NBA games and Futures.

In order to bet on MVP, users can click on the NBA tab and find the tab labeled “Futures” and move to “Player Futures.” Regular Season MVP should be one of the categories along with Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and more postseason awards.

Previous winners and trends

As mentioned above, only two MVP winners in the “modern era” have come from teams that won 50 games or fewer. Additionally, since 1985 only two MVPs have come from teams that failed to finish at least second in their conference.

So the starting point for choosing a good bet is finding the best player on a winning team. Heading into the 2019-2020 season, sportsbooks regarded the Clippers (+325), Lakers (+425), Bucks (+650), 76ers (+700) and Rockets (+800) as the top five contenders for an NBA championship.

But we’re looking at a regular-season award, so consider that the Nuggets (+425) and Jazz (+425) were considered two of the most likely teams to finish first in the Western Conference.

Based on Team Win Totals, the Bucks (56.5), Clippers (56.5), Sixers (53.5), Jazz (53.5), Rockets (52.5) and Nuggets (52.5) were the teams expected to finish the season with over 50 wins and thus have a legitimate MVP candidate.

Because the award is voted upon by sportswriters, a players’ body of work tends to put them over the top. Only four MVP winners were younger than 23 and the last rookie to win the MVP was Wes Unseld back in 1969.

Scoring is a key criteria for MVP, as the NBA’s leading scorer has won the award in four of the past five years.

While the Center position is fading in today’s small-ball NBA, that position leads the way in MVP awards with 25, although 22 of those came in the first 28 years of the award.

Over the last 14 years, guards have won the award 8 times, signifying how the NBA has transitioned to a faster-paced, higher-scoring game. The past four guards to win (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Derrick Rose) are not particularly renowned defenders. Posting gaudy offensive numbers can be enough to sway voters.

Shooting guards have won the fewest awards (eight) in the history of the MVP and Michael Jordan snagged 5 of those trophies.

NBA MVP betting favorites in 2019

Giannis Antetokounmpo does impact the game on both sides of the ball and that swayed many voters to take him over James Harden, who averaged a league-best 30.7 PPG last season.

Harden trailed Curry (+500) as the most likely candidates to take the award away from Giannis before the season. This is due to the Rockets addition of Russell Westbrook and the fact that Curry would be asked to do much more with Klay Thompson (knee) out indefinitely and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. However, an early-season injury to Curry all but ended his chance at winning the award for the third time.

When two superstars are on the same team, it can lead to votes getting split between them. We could see that this year with LeBron James on the same team as Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could also split votes.

If looking for value, our best dark horse candidate to win MVP is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. The versatile big man nearly averaged a triple-double (20.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 7.3 APG) last year and finished fifth in Player Efficiency Rating.

Denver checks all the boxes in terms of having a chance to finish first in the tough Western Conference and win over 53 games this year. And unlike the Clippers, Lakers, or Rockets, the Nuggets have one player who is clearly their most valuable.