NBA MVP Odds: DeMar DeRozan Emerges As A Darkhorse
NBA MVP Odds Update
5. DeMar DeRozan (+4000, Last Week: Unranked)
Move over Joel Embiid and Luka Doncic. You've been replaced by Mr. Clutch himself, DeMar DeRozan. After becoming the first player in NBA history to hit back-to-back game-winning buzzer beaters, voters and oddsmakers are sitting up and paying attention to DeRozan.
But his dominance was on display long before the two clutch shots last week. DeRozan's PER of 23.7 is his best since 2016-2017, as are his 26.8 points per game. He is number nine in the NBA in total Win Shares despite missing several games for the Bulls, He has the most two-point field goals made in the NBA and his 49.5% field goal percentage is the second-best of his career.
In what is even more important to voters, the Bulls have now passed the Nets and sit alone in first place in the East. They are the hottest team in the NBA, have won seven games in a row, and now score the third-most points per game in the conference (111). DeRozan is the ultimate longshot, dart throw to win the MVP award, but he is at least getting the notice he deserves.
4. Nikola Jokic (+2000, Last Week: +1400)
All of a sudden the Nuggets are right back in the think of things in the West playoff chase, thanks to the elite play of Nikola Jokic and some unheralded performances from players like Monte Morris and Will Barton.
But it all comes back to Jokic when thinking about any positive momentum for Denver. In his last 15 games, Jokic is getting dangerously close to averaging one of the more dominant triple-doubles we have ever seen. In that span, he is at 25 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 7.6 assists, with 1.5 steals on top of that.
So what do oddsmakers do with that stretch? They lengthen Jokic's odds from +1400 to +2000. Part of that is due to the fact that the Nuggets are already 10 games behind the Western Conference leaders, but by almost all metrics, this season by Jokic is statistically superior to his MVP campaign last year.
3. Giannis Antetokuonmpo (+900, Last Week: +950)
The Bucks are healthy and streaking at just the right time. The Nets are on a mini-slump, and Milwaukee has been able to pull within a statistical tie with them in the standings after six straight wins.
In that win streak, Giannis has put up a Wilt Chamberlain-esque 33 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game with a 37.4% usage rate. Those are numbers that even the most steadfast Curry voter can't ignore if they continue and the Bucks move up to the top of the East.
I am still in the camp that Curry will win this award, but I do not think Giannis is so far behind that there should be almost +800 in odds separating the two. A strong value hedge against any Curry injury or impact from Klay Thompson would be Giannis before the odds shorten even more.
2. Kevin Durant (+250, Last Week: +275)
Unlike Steph Curry, Durant's numbers might take a dip when Kyrie Irving makes his tumultuous return to the Brooklyn Nets this week. Presently, Durant is top eight in the NBA with a 31.5% usage rate, but history shows when he shares the court with other stars, the shots tend to be shared more evenly.
Durant's usage this year is his highest since 2013-2014, which is the year after James Harden left Oklahoma City for Houston and is also the year Russell Westbrook missed 36 games with injury. Since that time, Durant has been between 28-20% usage. Which is, of course, still elite, but he will now be sharing the court with two of the more ball-dominant players in the league in Harden and Irving.
I have been of the mindset for some time that Giannis is the better value if thinking of individual players who could put together a dominant stretch and surge to the front of the line in MVP odds. Durant's amazing season at age 33 deserves serious consideration, but Curry and Giannis seem to have the odds in their favor.
1. Steph Curry (+125, Last Week: +140)
It becomes clearer with each passing week that neither the Suns nor the Warriors will be able to significantly separate atop the West standings, it has not impacted Curry's stranglehold on the MVP odds.
The only two hurdles left to clear for Curry over the second half of the season will be health and the impending return of Klay Thompson, likely within a week. Coach Steve Kerr has already come out and said they are not going to bring him back until he is ready to play a full complement of minutes.
That surely will knock Curry's elite usage rate down a peg. Right now his 31% usage rate is top ten in the league, but how will Thompson impact that number? Between 2015 and 2020, Curry's usage rates fluctuated between 28% and 31%, so even with a Thompson or Andrew Wiggins or even Jordan Poole getting shots, it doesn't diminish Curry's dominance.
If you have been waiting for odds to drift on Curry, you've likely missed the boat. If I'm looking ahead two weeks, we may be headed for +110 very soon.
Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.