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Predicting the next NBA MVP is easier than most bettors think
Dec 22, 2021, 4:47:00 AM

Predicting the next NBA MVP is easier than most bettors think

The Most Valuable Player award is the most prestigious individual player in the NBA. Most of the best players in NBA history have won this award which is why it’s a metric for greatness. Let’s look at how bettors misconstrue the difficulty of betting on the MVP.

When it comes to measuring NBA players’ success and legacies, two awards come to mind. The first will always be the NBA championship or the Larry O’Brien Trophy. A championship ring is important for measuring success as evidenced by basketball greats such as Michael Jordan, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, among others.

However, when it comes to individual success, the MVP is the peak award for superstars. You can expect some all-time greats to have won the award including the names above. However, some players can be considered landmark players even if they had lacklustre playoff success. Players like Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and Steve Nash immediately pop up as MVPs who never won the NBA title.

The NBA has a long list of awesome players who have won the award and they have all proven that they deserve the award one way or another. While some careers didn’t pan out for the best like Derrick Rose and Bill Walton, they are still considered in the upper echelon of NBA players. 

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Preseason favourites are usually contenders

Over the years, NBA experts have proven to be a reliable source when it comes to awards races. The MVP is always the most heated debate because you always have multiple players who deserve the spotlight before the season even begins. Back in the 2018-19 season, most pundits thought that Giannis Antetokounmpo was the favourite to win the award and he managed to do so. 

This is usually the case for the top NBA stars who are favoured to win the award. There are a handful of players who are in the top tier of the NBA MVP odds 2022 and more often than not, they are right. Preseason favourites might not win the award but you can expect them to compete for the title. For example, Damian Lillard was seen as one of the preseason favourites before the 2017-18 season and he delivered as one of the top players in the league that season. 

Moving forward, if you want to bet on the MVP, you should look at the preseason favourites before making the decision. Most of the time, you will have five choices for the award. The odds will tell you the whole story but if you’re a devoted NBA fan, you would know who the best bets are. 

You should use the preseason favourites as a basis rather than the primary reason behind your bets. It is a shortlist of candidates that you can follow which will be helpful if you haven’t confirmed your pick just yet. Think long and hard about your pick first before you lock it in because the MVP is a significant award that nets you a solid amount of rewards.

Bettors overthink their MVP bets

Bettors tend to overthink their MVP bets when they only have a few options to choose from before the season starts. The official NBA website has their MVP ladder which makes the bets easier for punters who are struggling. This is why the process should be easier than most people think.

If you look at the NBA MVP 2021 odds, you would see that Giannis was on track to win the award before the 2021-22 season started. While that may not come true, there were other names on the list who also deserve the attention. Players like Steph Curry, NBA MVP 2021 Nikola Jokić, and Kevin Durant all had a shot at winning the trophy before the season and they proved it during the regular season.

You might have an inkling about who the MVP is when you look at their situation with their team. When a team is a title contender, you can expect them to have a significant winning record during the regular season. If they are the best player on a team with moderate success, you can expect to succeed with your MVP bets. 

It is difficult for bettors to bet on the MVP because their indecision stems from the number of great players in the NBA. To succeed in the betting industry, bettors need to be decisive with their bets and choosing one player to win the MVP takes courage but it should be easier than most people think. 

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A history of MVP favourites winning the race

When you look at the history of the MVP award, you can see that the winners were typically included in the preseason favourites list. The MVP has a storied history of landmark players and you can always see them included in the preseason list. Most of the time, the MVP race is a foregone conclusion between a few players and the season is played with a few players in that special class. 

Since the MVP is decided on voting, there is a concept called ‘voters’ fatigue’ which has prevented some stars from winning the award more than twice in a row. If you look at the MVP winners in the past few decades, there have only been two MVP wins in a row like Steph in 2015 and 2016 and Giannis back in 2019 and 2020. The last player to win three MVPs in a row was Larry Bird back in the mid-1980s. Voters’ fatigue is real because they get tired of voting for the same player even if he’s playing at a high level. 

This has led to the favourites shifting every few years but you can always expect them to win the race. When KD left the Oklahoma City Thunder in the summer of 2016, most NBA fans knew that Russell Westbrook would have the freedom to do what he wanted. This led to a 2016-17 season for the ages as Russ averaged a triple-double to help the Thunder secure the fifth seed even with KD’s exit. 

Narratives play a huge part in the NBA MVP favorites because you can rely on some stars to convince the voters that he’s the right pick. During that 2017 campaign, Russ proved that he is the best player in the league by cementing himself as the alpha player for OKC. He was a scorned man after his running mate left to join the Golden State Warriors and both the fans and media loved him for that storyline. It carried him to the MVP award even if they were on a lower-seeded team than other candidates. 

There have been many cases of favourites winning the award like Steph’s 2015-16 season when he became the first unanimous MVP. LeBron’s MVPs back in the 2012-13 season was also a predictable one because he was predicted to improve even more since that was at the peak of his physical prime.

Surprise MVP winners over the years

With the NBA’s storied history, there is bound to be some surprise MVP winners. The aforementioned Walton win back in the 1977-78 season was surprising because George Gervin was the expected winner. While Walton was excellent for the Portland Trail Blazers, Gervin was the deserving winner since he played the majority of the season while posting some solid stats as well. 

The 2014-15 season was an open race because most people thought that LeBron wouldn’t win again given that voters were tired of voting for him. While the narrative favoured him with his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was a bigger story brewing in the West Coast. Steph and the Warriors were on a tear as they dominated the Western Conference with an innovative style centred on three-point shooting. 

While Steph was a locked-in All-Star at that point, he became a prime MVP candidate and ended up winning the award. It ushered in a new era of basketball as Steph proved he deserved the award with how he carried the Warriors to their first NBA title in decades. 

The 2010-11 season was the first season of LeBron playing for the Miami Heat which irked so many fans and voters. He created a superteam with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade which was an unpopular decision at the time because it threw parity out of the window. However, this left LeBron as a lost name in the MVP race alongside the voters’ fatigue after he won two awards in a row in 2009 and 2010.

This left a new player to take over and win the award. Surprisingly, a young Derrick Rose won the award after leading the Chicago Bulls to the best record in the league. He was named the youngest NBA MVP ever at only 22 years of age. That was one of the most surprising MVPs ever because he was only a third-year player but he managed to win the most lucrative individual NBA award.

When it comes to the MVP award, you should always look at the narratives behind the top stars. This will play a huge factor in the MVP race because proving a point is meaningful in the NBA world. While some bettors will be surprised by players like Rose and Steph winning the award, they could’ve seen it coming if they looked into the dynamics of a team’s star player and how they influence their playstyle and winning mindset.

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Some players are regular-season stars

Most people forget but the MVP award is only for the regular season. They try to pin playoff failings on the MVP but that shouldn’t matter in the MVP race. Before he won in the 2021 Finals, Giannis was seen as a great player but he wasn’t all-time great without a ring. Since he has a championship now, Giannis is already an all-time great in those people’s eyes. However, even before he won the title, the Greek Freak already had two MVPs in his arsenal. 

On the other hand, there are players who have won MVPs but they are only successful in the regular season. That is not inherently bad since regular-season success is difficult since they have to play 82 games. In the playoffs, they struggle but that shouldn’t be a knock against their MVP runs. 

Russ and James Harden are recent examples of NBA MVP betting odds 2021 favourites being criticized because of their lack of rings. That shouldn’t take away from their regular-season success since they’ve proven across an 82-game season that they deserve the award. 

In the playoffs, defences are much more focused on them which makes them struggle. The games are tighter which forces other players to handle more responsibilities in the playoffs. The MVP would always struggle against those kinds of teams because the entire system locked in on stopping him during a seven-game series.

Future MVP candidates for the 2020s

With the 2020s in full swing, let’s talk about some of the MVP candidates that you can bet on for the rest of the decade. 

Luka Dončić

The Dallas Mavericks are blessed with Luka Dončić on their roster. Since he controls so much of the offence, you can expect him to put up monster stats as he continues to lead the Mavs to the playoffs. 

He is a shoo-in for MVP candidacy for the decade because of how well he leads his team. If you’re looking for the most likely to win the MVP award, Luka is primed to win the award as soon as the Mavs start winning consistently.

Ja Morant

The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the brightest futures in the league with Ja Morant as the centrepiece. He has all of the tools to become a top point guard and he has already proved his leadership skills early on in his career. 

He has leapt every year he has played in the NBA and you can expect him to keep this going until he wins an MVP and possibly a title in the future.

Zion Williamson

Early on in his career, Zion Williamson has faced some injuries but that does not take away from his potential. Since he’s still young, the 2020s will be a meaningful decade for Zion as he would play like the superstar he’s proven to be early on. 

The only worry with Zion is his health struggles but you can expect him to improve as he learns more sustainable methods of staying healthy.

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Evan Mobley

The Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the most promising core lineups in the league. With Evan Mobley as their centrepiece, you can expect the team to succeed since they are ready to prove themselves against other promising teams.

Mobley has the potential to become the best player in the world. He can defend at an elite level and his scoring is bound to improve. He is a complete player who can only improve and since he’s with the Cavs, he has the freedom to perform. 

Research pays off when betting on the MVP

The MVP race is difficult at first but when you find out about the resources that you can use before you make the final bet, you can have an easier time. Research is key to succeeding in betting and that includes the MVP race. 

The NBA has a vast player population but there are only a few stars who can separate themselves from the rest of the pack. As long as you have good knowledge of the league and its players, you can expect to be successful when it comes to your MVP bets. This is not only for the MVP because you can look at the other awards in the NBA like the Most Improved Player and Defensive Player of the Year which have strong races as well. 

You should always do your best when betting on the MVP because this only comes once a year. If you hit on the limited odds to win NBA MVP 2021, you can expect to earn some solid rewards from your bet winnings. 

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA