NBA Futures: MVP Regular Season Props - All About Westbrook

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 5:51 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 5:51 PM UTC

The 2016-17 NBA season tips off tonight and every team will have played its first game by late night. Let's take a look at some last-minute season betting props from some of SBR's best sportsbooks and my NBA picks.

 NBA Scoring Leader & MVP

Back in August, I wrote that I fully expected Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook to win his first scoring title and league MVP. And at BetOnline, Westbrook is a +160 NBA odds favorite on the scoring prop and also No. 1 on the MVP board at +325. I still like Westbrook in the scoring but not the MVP and I'll explain why.

I'm guessing you have heard by now that Westbrook's superstar running mate, Kevin Durant, left in free agency for rival Golden State. I think it's fair to say that Westbrook felt a bit betrayed because Durant never even told him he was leaving before announcing it to the world. The Thunder and Warriors can't play soon enough because Westbrook is going to go crazy in those matchups.

As good as Durant was, and he was a four-time scoring champion and once the league MVP, he was also the focal point of the offense. He was going to get more shots than Westbrook. But now? There's no doubt in my mind that Westbrook leads the NBA in shot attempts. We got a glimpse of that when Durant was hurt the past two years. In those two seasons in games sans Durant, Westbrook averaged 23.9 field goal attempts per game. No NBA player has averaged 25.0 field goal attempts per game in a season since Kobe Bryant (27.2) and Allen Iverson (25.3) in 2005-06. Last year, the league leader was the Kings' DeMarcus Cousins at 20.5 per game. The NBA record for most field-goal attempts in a season was 3,159 by Wilt Chamberlain in 1961-62. Teams played 80 games then so Chamberlain's average was 39.5 attempts per game. Certainly, that record is safe.

As for MVP, Westbrook almost surely will lead the NBA in triple-doubles this year. He had 18 last season, the most by any player since Magic Johnson had 18 in 1981-82. ESPN's BPI projects Westbrook to average 27.2 points, 9.8 assists and 8.1 this year. Those are amazing numbers.

But recent history has shown that if you don't play for a title contender -- basically a team that finishes with one of the two best records in either conference -- that you aren't winning an MVP. I don't see how the Thunder finish better than fourth in the West behind the Warriors, Spurs, and Clippers. And fourth is being optimistic and assuming Westbrook doesn't miss any time. He hasn't played every regular-season game since 2012-13.


NBA Free Pick

Westbrook on the scoring and I'm rolling the long-shot dice on the Clippers' Blake Griffin +3300 at Bet365 to win MVP. He's in a contract year and poised to have his best season.



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NBA Assists Leader

Westbrook is your +250 favorite on NBA picks here. He finished second in the league last year at 10.4 per game. But most of those were to Durant. Those assist numbers are coming way down because Russ will be shooting so much more and the fact his teammates obviously aren't as good as Durant was in scoring.

The Clippers' Chris Paul, Washington's John Wall and Chicago's Rajon Rondo are the +325 second-favorites in all of the best sportsbooks. Rondo won his third assists title last year in his only season with Sacramento, averaging 11.65 per game. Wall was third at 10.2 per game. I don't see Rondo leading again because he's not going to be handling the ball as much in Chicago because the Bulls also have Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, and they prefer to have the ball in their hands. Plus, frankly, the Bulls are going to struggle offensively.

Wall's Wizards aren't much this season other than he and Bradley Beal so I don't love him on this prop. Paul has won four assists totals in his career and was fourth last year at 10.0 per game. Your other options are Houston's James Harden (+1000), Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (+1600) and any other player (+1000).


NBA Free Pick

Harden might be worth a shot here. He has been installed as the Rockets' starting point guard and that team is going to play as fast as anyone in the NBA and score a ton of points.


NBA Rebounds Leader

Detroit's Andre Drummond is the +120 favorite to win the rebounding title. He won it last season at 14.79 per game, ending a two-year run by the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan (+200). Drummond pulled down at least 20 rebounds nine times and predicted he would win the award so good for him. Miami's Hassan Whiteside is +750 and then there's a drop-off.


NBA Free Pick

Drummond has lost weight this season and is in the best shape of his life. "I'm going to win the rebounding crown again. I'm going for it -- no doubt about it," he said recently. I believe he will.


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