Harden & Leonard Rocketing Up NBA MVP Odds Board

Rockets player James Harden in action

Jay Pryce

Saturday, December 24, 2016 1:51 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016 1:51 PM UTC

Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard are seeing the biggest adjustments to their odds for NBA MVP but still, can't top the Thunder's Russell Westbrook. Check out updated odds and some historical insight to who may take home the award here.

Houston’s James Harden is rocketing up the odds board for NBA MVP following a torrid start to the season. The four-time All-Star went off at +1500 odds to win the award back in July, the number dipping to +325 at many sports books with a quarter of the season under wraps. Harden is posting an eye-catching 27.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and league-leading 11.7 assists per game in Mike D’Antoni’s free-flowing coaching philosophy.

The unofficial king of triple-doubles Russell Westbrook remains top betting choice above Harden, however. One of the NBA’s best all-around players is currently +120 odds to win the award. Westbrook left as the lone superstar on the Thunder following Kevin Durant’s departure to Golden State, went off as +300 co-favorites with reigning title holder Steph Curry in the summer.

Westbrook is remarkably averaging a triple-double on the season with 31.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.8 assists per game. The great Wilt Chamberlin is the only NBA player in history to accomplish this feat for an entire season (1961-62). The game was much less democratic then, making Westbrook’s numbers all the more impressive.

Curry has seen the biggest drop in price, listed at +1400 odds. In addition to Westbrook and Harden, the sharpshooter sits behind LeBron James (+450), Durant (+650), and the rising Kawhi Leonard in the race.

The Spurs do-it-all small forward has seen the second-largest adjustment among top choices, going from an initial offer of +1500 in July to the current +750 price. Leonard is looking a shoe-in to nab his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award. On top of that, he is piecing together a career-best season offensively with 24.0 points per game.

The candidates rounding out the bookmakers’ top 10 offerings include Anthony Davis (+2500), Damian Lillard (+3500), Chris Paul (+3500) and Giannis Antetokuonmpo (+5000).

Bettors need to zero in on the idea of “best player on the best team” if wagering a future offer. MVP voters tend to favor stars on top teams when it comes to penciling in the final award winner. Since 1985, only Michael Jordan (1988) and Karl Malone (1999) have nabbed the honors on a franchise not seeded 1 or 2 for the playoffs in their respective conferences. Each played on third-ranked teams for what it’s worth.

Westbrook will easily get the award if he matches Chamberlain’s season achievements, but the odds are against. Just four days ago, BetOnline made the number +175/-220 yes-no for the five-time All-Star finishing the season averaging a tripe-double. Will the Thunder be a top-3 seed in the West? Or the Rockets for that matter? The Warriors and Spurs still reign supreme in the conference and will likely finish 1-2 again. Don’t sleep on King James either. The Cavs will be right there in the East and LeBron will have the numbers to his fifth MVP award.


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