The NBA’s MVP award is the highest individual honor given to an NBA player. It is given annually to the best player during a particular season. The award has been handed out since the 1955-56 season. Since the 1980-81 season, the winner is picked by a panel of sportscasters and sportswriters in the United States and Canada.
Every player who has won the MVP award has been inducted to the Naismith Hall of Fame upon eligibility. Kareem Abdul Jabbar has won a record six NBA MVP awards. Both Bill Russell and Michael Jordan won the award five times. Meanwhile, Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James are four-time MVP winners. Chamberlain and Wes Unseld are the only players to win the award during their rookie season. Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and the 2019 winner Giannis Antetokounmpo are the only international players to win the award.
Stephen Curry is the only unanimously voted MVP in 2016 while Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James fell one vote short of being unanimous MVP in 2000 and 2013, respectively. Only Moses Malone in 1979 & 1982 and Russell Westbrook in 2016 won the MVP award with their team winning fewer than 50 games.
The NBA season doesn’t start until November but as early as now, the odds to win the MVP are already out in the odds boards. Here are the odds to win the 2019-20 NBA MVP award. Odds were taken from Bet365 as of 7/23/19:
|Karl Anthony Towns||+2500|
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA betting favorite to win as the NBA’s 2019-20 NBA season. The Greek Freak won the 2019 NBA MVP award after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA-best 60 wins last season, the most victories by the franchise since 1981. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in most statistical categories and was the main reason why the Bucks made it all the way to the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals where they were upset by the eventual champions Toronto Raptors.
Stephen Curry of the dethroned 2018 champions Golden State Warriors was the NBA’s back to back MVP in 2015 when the Warriors burst into the title scene and in 2016 when they won a record 73 regular-season games. Curry is expected to reprise his scorer’s role this coming season with Kevin Durant leaving for Brooklyn and backcourt partner Klay Thompson possibly out for the entire 2019-20 NBA season with an Achilles injury.
James Harden was the 2018 NBA MVP after leading the Houston Rockets to the 2018 Western Conference Finals where they were one game away from eliminating the Golden State Warriors. Harden and the Rockets had a slow start to the 2018-19 season, mostly due to injuries. They picked it up late in the season but the team couldn’t replicate the same success they had the previous year. As for Harden, he had another phenomenal offensive season, scoring 30 points or more in 32 straight games.
LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood last year and while off the court it has been a phenomenal success, his Lakers failed to make the playoffs last season. It was the first time in a long time that James had not played in the postseason. But the Lakers regrouped this summer, adding the likes of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley to bolster their 2019-20 chances. James is a four-time MVP winner, having won the award twice with the Cavaliers and twice with the Heat. With Davis in town, James is expected to do the other things he couldn’t when he tried to lead a young Lakers team last season.
Kawhi Leonard was the 2019 NBA Finals MVP after leading the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA title. Leonard was traded in the summer of 2018 from San Antonio to Toronto. He quickly blended with his new teammates and became Toronto’s leader. Leonard signed a free-agent deal with the Los Angele Clippers this summer and is expected to lead the Clippers along with fellow California native Paul George.
Steph Curry’s numbers are expected to balloon next season with KD out and Klay injured. However, without those two, I’m not even sure if the Warriors make the playoffs next season. Really. Without regular-season success, it’s going to be difficult for Curry to win the MVP award. Remember that only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won the MVP award without making the playoffs and this happened way back in 1975.76.
James Harden will be paired with another ball-dominant player and another former MVP winner in Russell Westbrook who was traded from the Thunder to the Rockets for Chris Paul this summer. With Westbrook in Houston, I would expect Harden to share the wealth and hence, his production could suffer as well. Speaking of Harden and Westbrook, I’m not sure how this pairing will work in Houston but I could be wrong. Still, with another MVP playing alongside him, Harden may find it hard to win the MVP next season.
Kawhi Leonard proved last year that he could play at an MVP level despite it being his first year with a team. The Toronto Raptors went all the way to the NBA title in Leonard’s first season there. However, with Leonard moving to the L.A. Clippers this coming season, he will be paired with another MVP candidate in Paul George. George is coming off an MVP season in OKC and will surely compete with Kawhi for statistics and perhaps even leadership on that team. So while I like what Leonard did in Toronto, I’m not sure if he can replicate the same team success with the Clippers nor do I foresee him winning the MVP in his second team in two seasons.
LeBron James will also be paired with a superstar in Anthony Davis and based on the argument I made for James Harden and Kawhi Leonard, he shouldn’t be a good pick for MVP because of AD. However, I think that while Harden/Westbrook and Leonard/George will compete, LeBron and AD won’t. For one their games are different and may even perhaps be complimentary. We know James can win MVPs playing alongside a superstar because he did so twice in Miami with D-Wade and Bosh.
There’s no question that Giannis Antetokounmpo has the edge over the other Top 5 favorites because Milwaukee doesn’t have a second superstar in town. Also, the Bucks didn’t make too many changes this summer because after all, they were the best regular-season team in 2018-19. Antetokounmpo is only 24 years old and has rapidly improved in the last couple of years. This is a kid with limitless potential. My only concern with Giannis is if he gets hurt ( I pray not, though ). Although we haven’t seen him get hurt seriously, I’m concerned about the workload he carries for the Bucks.
It’s still too early to tell who will be the MVP this year just as it is too early to say who will be a sure-fire bet for NBA champion. But when you look at the Top 5 in the odds board, I like Giannis because of his current situation in Milwaukee and the fact that he has improved rapidly in the last couple of years.
However, I also like the value on Anthony Davis at +900 and Joel Embiid at +1400. Sure Davis will be heading to LA which is already LeBron city but with the recent talk that LeBron will be moving to point guard, I think the aging King James will allow Davis to take over the team as his. Davis has plenty to prove and I think being paired with James, he will be able to play better knowing that he is no longer alone.
As for Embiid, I think that the departure of Jimmy Butler will put the focus on Embiid this season. With Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford helping him, I think Jojo is going to have his best season ever. That said, I’m picking Joel Embiid to be the NBA’s 2019-20 MVP. If you pick Anthony Davis or Giannis Antetokounmpo, I wouldn’t mind. But don’t blame me if I didn’t tell you.