When I reviewed the latest NBA MVP odds at sportsbooks two weeks ago, Houston's James Harden was the slight betting favorite. That's no longer the case as Golden State's Stephen Curry is the new leader. Let's break down the favorites.
Best Player on NBA's Best Team
Some NBA voters always are going to cast their MVP ballots for the best player on the league's top team and that's what Curry is to the Warriors, who entered Tuesday with a 33-6 mark and two-game lead over second-place Portland in the Western Conference. The Warriors have become +280 West favorites on NBA odds and +450 NBA championship favorites, just ahead of No. 2 Cleveland (+475).
Curry is now the 5/4 MVP favorite at sportsbooks and leads the NBA's highest-scoring team at 23.2 points per game on just 16.4 shots per night. Those are the fewest shots of any player ranked in the Top 10 in scoring. Curry's .499 shooting percentage is second-best of the Top-10 players, behind only New Orleans big man Anthony Davis (.561). Curry is also fifth in the NBA in assists at 8.0 per game and No. 3 in 3-point field goals made at 118. With Curry on the floor, the Warriors have outscored opponents by nearly 500 points this season and we are only halfway through the year.
The only fault in Curry's game? He averages 3.2 turnovers per night, which is the 11th-most in the NBA. Considering how much Curry has the ball, however, that's acceptable. In addition, Curry has a verbal contract with his mother, Sonya, through which he is fined for turnovers. This has been going on for three years. The two settled on three turnovers per game. Anything more than that and Curry owes his mother: $100 per giveaway. Anything under is subtracted from his season total.
Curry can really make an MVP statement on Wednesday night against Harden as the Warriors host Houston. Golden State is 3-0 against the Rockets this season, winning each convincingly. Curry is averaging 27.0 points, 7.7 assists and 7.7 rebounds in the three games.
Harden & LeBron on Curry's Heels
Harden is now 7/2 on NBA odds with preseason favorite LeBron James. Harden leads the NBA in scoring at 27.1 points per game and if he has more nights like Monday then Harden could pass Curry. That's because Harden put up a season-high 45 points on just 18 field-goal attempts in a win over Indiana. It was the 18th 30-point game and fourth with 40 this season for Harden; no other NBA player has more than two 40-point games.
It was just the fifth time in the last 30 seasons that a player notched at least 45 points on 18 or fewer field-goal attempts. Harden is the only player in NBA history since the 3-point line was implemented 35 seasons ago to have multiple career games (two) with at least 45 points, while shooting at least 66 percent from the field and hitting at least seven 3-pointers. His other game was on Feb. 20, 2013, against the Thunder. Harden is second only to DeMarcus Cousins this season in PAR (Points + Assists + Rebounds) per game at 39.5.
LeBron has some catching up to do after missing eight straight games at the end of December and beginning of January due to injury. However, James says he now feels the best physically he has all season and the Cavaliers might be ready to take off as they have won three straight games in impressive fashion. James is averaging 26.0 points (second to Harden), 7.3 assists and 5.5 rebounds. The Cavs are home to finish this week and should easily beat Utah on Wednesday and Charlotte on Friday before James meets up with Kevin Durant and the Thunder for the first time this season on Sunday in a nationally televised game on ABC. James sat out a 103-94 loss in Oklahoma City on Dec. 11. Durant is a 20/1 long shot on NBA odds to repeat as NBA MVP, and he has missed too many games to deserve the award again.
NBA Free Pick: The only thing you worry about with Curry is if he gets hurt, but he has to be the NBA pick for MVP right now.