The NBA Odds to win the regular season MVP are out across the sportsbook realm and there are some intriguing plays. Here are some early betting odds on who might be a good value to win the MVP.
Russell Westbrook (+400)
With Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City for Oakland/San Francisco, it has created a vacuum in the race for the MVP. Stephen Curry is still the odds-on favorite to win the award for a third year in a row. However, Durant joining him in Golden State might limit his stats some in the 2016-2017 season, while making Russell Westbrook a fantastic MVP value.
He is the only chalk play I like at this point in the offseason, but one look at the Thunder last season when Durant was either out or on the bench tells the story. According to the metrics at NBA Wowy, Westbrook had a usage rate of 40 percent when Durant was off the court. It's not like he struggled either, averaging a true shooting percentage of 54.4 percent and if he gets that kind of run next season, as long as he stays healthy and some of his teammates step up, Westbrook is going to get close to averaging 30 points or more next season, with about eight rebounds and eight helpers per game.
If Westbrook isn't a good play for the award I don't know who is, because if the Thunder can remain as a top team in the West, it's going to be hard to ignore the numbers he will put up next season.
Paul George (+4000)
Now it's time for the off-the-board picks. After the Cavaliers in the East, there is a big gap between the defending champs and the rest of the East. I suspect Toronto is still going to be good and Atlanta has done well to retool for next season, even after losing two starters. However, the next best team or even a team that might be the second best team in the East is the Pacers.
Indiana has also done well to build and improve their roster this offseason. Trades to bring in Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young will bolster this starting unit. Myles Turner is a year older, but this is still Paul George's team and they are going to be good. They brought in Al Jefferson as well, so with all these pieces and a new head coach, this team could realistically challenge the Cavaliers for the number one seed.
While I doubt that will happen, George still presents value on this play. He could easily average 25 points per game next season with six or seven rebounds and assists as well. However, even though he isn't a bad play, the next guy on our list may be the best long shot of the field.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (+5000)
While the Bucks might not be that good of a team, they have Giannis Antetokounmpo, who by sheer numbers has to at the very least talked about in the Future NBA Odds. Remember all that stuff above I said about the East being a crapshoot 2-8? Apply that to the Bucks and consider the possibility that the combination of Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and a deep group of role and bench players could be a top-three team in the East.
The only way that happens is if Antetokounmpo is posting numbers improving on what he did to end the season. In the final two months of the season, Antetokounmpo was averaging 19.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Now, let's all remember that he is only 21 years old. The prospect of a Derrick Rose-style rise for Antetokounmpo is not out of the question. He could improve even more next season to become one of the league's best 10 players.
The Bucks are a well-coached, young team with nothing to lose and they are in the lesser conference. Who says they can't make a run like they did in 2014-2015, but make it better? Antetokounmpo would beat out Rose by only a few months to be the youngest player to win the award, so while it would be unprecedented, it is not out of the question.