NBA MVP best bets: Durant, George primed for career seasons
With the NBA season on its way, time is running out to grab the best value in the MVP market, which is sure to move quickly when stars get off to hot starts. That said, this year is a wide-open race, with three of the six favorites having never won the award before.
Here are the preseason odds to win the award at theScore Bet and our three best bets ahead of the 2021-22 season:
|Michael Porter Jr.||+24500|
|Kevin Porter Jr.||+35000|
Kevin Durant, F, Nets (+750)
Is this award Durant's to lose? The 2013-14 MVP winner was expected to start slow in his first season back from an Achilles injury. Instead, he scored 26.9 points per game - his highest average since leaving Oklahoma City in 2016 - and set career highs in field-goal percentage (53.7%) and 3-point percentage (45%) in his first season with the Nets.
Now he enters this campaign as the clear focal point of a Brooklyn offense that could be without Kyrie Irving for an extended period, if not the entire season. Irving used 30.4% of the Nets' possessions while on the court last year, so his absence could mean career numbers for his prolific teammate.
Paul George, F, Clippers (+2700)
I've been eyeing George as a legitimate MVP candidate since early August, when he was dealing at 35-1 to win the award at theScore Bet and even higher at some other shops. He's still worth a bet at this price just three years removed from finishing third in MVP voting in his final year with the Thunder.
He's taken a backseat to teammate Kawhi Leonard in two seasons since, but he'll have every opportunity to lead the Clippers on both ends of the court with Leonard sidelined for most (if not all) of the season. We saw what George could do as the lead dog in the playoffs, when he averaged 29.6 points, 11 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.4 steals in Leonard's absence. If he puts up those types of numbers across a full season, he's got a real shot.
Ben Simmons, G, 76ers (+15000)
It's in vogue to bash Simmons after the pass-first guard passed up an open look under the basket in a critical moment of Game 7, which precipitated his temporary summer holdout with the 76ers. But the hate has gone too far, as we're now pricing one of the 30 best players in the league as a distant long shot with the 44th-shortest odds in the field.
This is the same player who finished 12th in MVP voting a season ago and was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year at a position that rarely earns that level of respect. He's also one of the best passers in the league, finished third among guards in rebounds (7.2) last season, and has the skill set to flourish in the right offense. The missing ingredient is, famously, a jump shot, which is traditionally the easiest area to improve with the right coaching.
If Simmons can force his way to a more conducive environment, he has the potential to vault into the upper tier of NBA stars - and after the turmoil of the past few months, that kind of leap should be enough to garner some MVP consideration. He's simply too talented to be dealing at this price.
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