We are a bit past the quarter pole of the 2014-15 NBA regular season so it's a good time to check on updated NBA player props odds at sportsbooks. Some things haven't changed, but there is one big surprise in the categories listed below.
Shocker: LeBron James was the preseason favorite to win his fifth NBA MVP Award! Kevin Durant's broken foot certainly helped James' cause as Durant was the No. 2 betting choice on NBA odds. Now James is the +125 favorite at sportsbooks. And I have to say, I disagree with that -- but let's remember that this is largely a popularity contest and there's no player more popular than LeBron. Entering Thursday, James is averaging 24.8 points, 7.7 assists and 5.5 rebounds for a Cavaliers team that started slowly but has since taken off and remains the NBA championship favorite. That 24.8 number would be James' lowest scoring average since his rookie season. Last season with the Heat, James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists. That his rebounds are a bit down is no shock because the Cavs don't need him to do that as much as Miami did.
The second-favorite and the guy I think should be favored is the Pelicans' Anthony Davis at +240 on NBA odds. This guy is going to win multiple MVP Awards before he's done. The 21-year-old is averaging 25.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.0 steals. Those are just stupid numbers. He leads the NBA in ESPN's player efficiency rating at 32.96. By comparison, James is No. 10 at 24.65.
The favorites are rounded out by Golden State's Stephen Curry, the best player on the NBA's best team thus far. Curry is +400. He's sixth in the NBA in scoring at 23.0 points per game while chipping in 7.7 assists and 5.1 rebounds.
LeBron will win the award again because Davis' Pelicans are just average.
Rookie of the Year
The guy I liked in the preseason was Milwaukee's Jabari Parker, knowing he was going to be a full-time starter right away and arguably the No. 1 offensive threat on the Bucks. Parker hasn't dominated but has been solid, averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds for an improved Milwaukee club. Parker was the betting favorite at sportsbooks back in the summer and remains so.
Coming on strong is Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins, the No. 1 overall NBA pick. The Wolves are injury-ravaged so Wiggins is getting more minutes than expected and showing off the athleticism everyone raved about. He's averaging 12.4 points and 3.9 rebounds but is already a good defender unlike Parker. Wiggins has had back-to-back 20-point games to start this week.
Realistically, it's just a two-man race between those two. I lean Wiggins now.
Kevin Durant was the preseason NBA betting favorite to win the scoring title, but I didn't like that at all because I wasn't sure he would play enough games to qualify. And he still might not as the Thunder could give him the occasional second of a back-to-back off (or first). Durant is still getting into 100 percent game shape and is averaging 22.0 points. That would be his lowest since averaging 20.3 as a rookie.
I believed the best value back in the preseason on this prop at sportsbooks was Houston's James Harden as a moderate long shot and Harden is leading the league at 25.6 points per game. With Dwight Howard missing a ton of games due to injury, Harden can fire away at will. Certainly the surprise is that Kobe Bryant is No. 2 at 25.5 points. Not bad for a 36-year-old on a terrible team. But it's the fact the Lakers are so bad that bodes well for Kobe because he can literally shoot every possession if he wants to and nearly does. He leads the league by a ton with 492 shot attempts. That's 22.4 per game folks. Kobe had one game against Phoenix where he put it up a whopping 37 times. No. 2 is Monta Ellis with 417 field-goal attempts.
The Pelicans' Davis is No. 3 at 25.1 points per game with James No. 4 at 24.8. I'm sticking with my choice of Harden. Kobe probably will break down at some point.