- Bovada lists Giannis Antetokounmpo (+300) as the favorite for the 2020 NBA Most Valuable Player Award
- Lakers teammates LeBron James (+650) and Anthony Davis (+700) are in danger of splitting the vote
- James Harden (+800) and Kawhi Leonard (+900) have seen their MVP odds fall the most since the summer
With the NBA season set to tip off on Tuesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo remains the favorite to win his second-straight Most Valuable Player award.
However, given only four players have claimed back-to-back league MVPs since the turn of the century (Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James and Stephen Curry), the Milwaukee Bucks superstar faces an uphill climb.
Using the latest odds at Bovada, let’s determine what the Greek Freak will have to do for an encore to take home the hardware and analyze the other contenders for the award.
2020 NBA Regular Season MVP Odds
GIANNIS OR STEPH?
Last year, Giannis set career-highs in points (27.7), rebounds (12.5) and assists (5.9) on the 60-win Bucks, but there was a considerable chink in his armor that Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors exploited in the Eastern Conference Final.
While the 24-year-old shot 57.8% from the field, he only hit 25.6% of his buckets from beyond the arc. To go back-to-back, Antetokounmpo will have to make noticeable improvements in his three-point shooting stroke this season.
Giannis started the game off with this! ? pic.twitter.com/8MVxa8gqLu
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 10, 2019
Operating without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Steph Curry has a ready-built narrative to claim his third MVP trophy if he can pile up points and lead Golden State to the playoffs.
Keep in mind, the 31-year-old averaged 27.7 points per 36 minutes when sharing the court with Durant in 2018-19, and 34.4 points without him.
If you’ve seen Tarantino’s latest flick Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, you know that Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt give Academy Award-worthy performances. But, sadly, just as there can be only one Best Actor in a given year, there can only be one NBA MVP.
For that reason, Lakers teammates LeBron James (+650) and Anthony Davis (+700) are locked in dead heat.
King James is coming off a disappointing season where he played a career-low 55 games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05, but he still put up 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. Even at age 34, averaging a triple-double over the course of a full season remains a possibility.
LeBron James, one day after tossing Daryl Morey under a bus: “I won’t talk about it again” https://t.co/ulDQWemseC pic.twitter.com/c3cvIJTKUj
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 16, 2019
Before getting the bad press that came with forcing himself out of the Big Easy, the 26-year-old Davis was quickly earning himself a reputation as the game’s most-complete player.
With blossoming playmaking, shooting and defensive skills, the 6-foot-10 forward is the team’s best MVP bet if the Lakers can improve last year’s 37-45 record to something in the 55- to 60-win range.
Since our last check-in in July, the MVP odds of Kawhi Leonard and James Harden have fallen the most.
Despite announcing himself as the best player on the planet in last year’s playoffs, the NBA Finals MVP dropped from +700 to +900 due to concerns that the Clippers will employ the same wildly-successful load management approach that saw Leonard sit out 22 games for the Raptors in 2018/19.
Last season, James Harden scored 30+ vs. every NBA team.
Only 13 days until The Beard is back ? pic.twitter.com/xIBKYg3V9l
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 9, 2019
The Beard’s odds have also plummeted from +550 in the summer to +800 today. Last season, the 29-year-old finished second in MVP voting for the third time in the last five years after enjoying a wild 32-game streak with at least 30 points per contest.
Harden will have to find a way to share the ball with 2016/17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, but if he can put up yet another statistical masterpiece on a winning team, he’ll be tough for voters to ignore.