Last season, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry averaged 30.1 points, 6.7 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game en route to the first unanimous NBA MVP in league history. This was the second consecutive MVP Award for Curry, who had the second-best odds at winning the award before the start of the season.
This year, Curry is surprisingly the second choice from the oddsmakers to take home the honor, coming in at +330 to win another MVP. Curry winning again would be a remarkable achievement considering that only three players – Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell – have won the MVP in three consecutive seasons.
James Harden +115
Kawhi Leonard +1715
Isaiah Thomas +5000
LeBron James +3000
Kevin Durant +5200
With Kevin Durant joining the Warriors, Russell Westbrook is now front and center as the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last season, Westbrook nearly averaged a triple-double with 23.5 points, 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game. It’s safe to assume that his scoring should increase now that he doesn’t have to share the ball with Durant, which explains why Westbrook has the best odds of winning the 2016-17 MVP Award.
Interestingly, six of the top seven MVP candidates reside in the Western Conference. The Warriors are favored to win the West but Curry and Durant could easily cancel each other out in the voting. If that is the case, there could be some value in LeBron James.
The Cavaliers are -250 favorites to win the Eastern Conference, and the MVP Award has typically been given to the best player for the top-seeded playoff team. Considering that LeBron finally brought a championship to Cleveland, yet most of the off-season discussion has centered on Durant’s decision to join the Warriors, there’s a good chance the King will be extra motivated this season.
Last year, LeBron was +250 to win the MVP before the start of the season, which makes those +525 odds for 2016-17 look mighty inviting. Eight of the past 10 award winners opened the season listed at +700 or lower, which also bodes well for the Finals MVP.
It’s realistic to see every member of the Warriors take a dip in their numbers with the addition of Durant. James will have essentially the same rotation around him minus Matthew Dellavedova. Durant’s move to the Bay Area may have helped LeBron in his quest to win a fifth NBA MVP award.
Our darkhorse pick from the Eastern Conference is Indiana’s Paul George, who was the best player on the court in the Pacers playoff loss to Toronto last season. George has a stronger supporting cast after several offseason moves and Indy could be a surprise in the conference. George said he’s fully recovered from his surgically repaired left leg and got better as the season went on. He averaged 23.1 points and seven rebounds for the 45-win Pacers.
If Curry and Durant zero-factor each other and OKC stumbles, the West suddenly becomes wide open. As always, the Spurs will be in the thick of the race and have a superstar on their roster in Kawhi Leonard. He may be worth the gamble at +1550 since he is now the face of the franchise with the retirement of Tim Duncan.
Keep in mind that since the 1982-83 season, every MVP winner was from a team that won at least 50 games in the regular season that year, excluding lockout years. Only six teams reached that plateau last season, so that significantly decreases the number of candidates.
Also, only two rookies have ever won the award, so don’t go thinking Ben Simmons has a shot. If the No. 1 overall pick can get the 76ers to 20 wins, he may be the MVP in Philadelphia, but not the NBA.
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