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Kevin Durant Opens as Favorite in Preliminary 2021 NBA Finals MVP Odds

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

May 18, 2021 · 8:35 PM PDT

Kevin Durant Durant sits on bench
NBA Finals MVP betting favorite Kevin Durant spent a lot of time on the sidelines for the Brooklyn Nets this season. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
  • Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant the early betting favorite for Finals MVP
  • LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard Donovan Mitchell and Giannis Antetokounmpo round out the top five
  • Read below for our best value picks to take home the hardware

We’re looking at the opening bracket for the NBA playoffs (without the play-in still to be completed), and trying to find the best value for NBA Finals MVP. Oddsmakers went with the team favored to win it all — the Brooklyn Nets — and have Kevin Durant as their early betting favorite.

He’s trailed by LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, the only three players in the field that have a Finals MVP on their resume (and multiple ones, at that).

Let’s see if we can find some value wagers among the bunch and make a prediction, with these odds courtesy of FanDuel.

2021 NBA Finals MVP Odds

Player Odds
Kevin Durant +420
LeBron James +650
Kawhi Leonard +750
Donovan Mitchell +850
Giannis Antetokounmpo +850
Joel Embiid +900
James Harden +1300
Kyrie Irving +1300
Anthony Davis +3000
Paul George +3000
Jimmy Butler +3400
Nikola Jokic +3800
Chris Paul +4200
Devin Booker +4200
Luka Doncic +4200

Odds as of May 18th

Hello, Brooklyn

As you’ll hear plenty of times as the First Round kicks off, the Brooklyn Nets are ridiculously talented, and if it comes together as expected, this team should  be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.

It stands to reason that Durant, widely considered the NBA’s best talent not named LeBron James, would be the figurehead in leading BK to a franchise first and the MVP that comes with it. But proceed with caution. Durant’s final eight games of the season was the longest consistent number of games he played all season, as he was plagued with a hamstring injury that the Nets were very delicate with all campaign.

Also, consider the gauntlet they’re going to have to go through: even though they’ll be heavily favored against the Celtics, the DNA of a conference finalist is there, and a red-hot Jayson Tatum will not make it an easy series. That’s followed by the winner of Miami/Milwaukee, and then the final East boss, the 76ers.

Consider the path Philadelphia will have: either Indiana or Washington in Round 1, then the winner of Atlanta/New York before tackling any of the East heavies. If you’re thinking Joel Embiid (+900) as a feasible candidate, I do not blame you. One of the finalists for regular-season MVP, there’s not a body big enough to contain the hulking center.

The West Story

As I’ve gone on record saying: all roads will eventually run through the Lakers. Assuming they withstand a Curry-quake in the play-in, that means bad news for the 51-win Phoenix Suns in Round 1, which explains why Chris Paul and Devin Booker were given just +4200 odds.

The Lakers will need to go through the Nuggets/Blazers series winner, which would have been more daunting if Jamal Murray weren’t injured or if Portland wasn’t so porous defensively. LeBron and company will also likely have to deal with one of the Jazz or the Clippers in the West Final.

That was the Clippers’ plan: tanking the final two games of the year to the lowly Thunder and Rockets, ensuring they wouldn’t clash with their Staples’ co-tenant until the end of the road.

Does anyone believe in the Jazz? The only player in the top-15 odds is Mitchell, who hasn’t played since April 16, missing a total of 16 straight games. But the Jazz’s path is reasonable. They’ll be a heavy favorite over anyone surviving the play-in, and should be favored after the Clippers/Mavericks slugfest.

Others to Consider

if you’re looking for value, consider the other stars on some of the favorite squads, like James Harden (+1300) on the Nets. Assuming he’s healthy from a wonky hammy, he was a beast in 44 games this year, going for 24.6 points, 10.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds in the most devastatingly effortless version of the Beard we’ve ever seen. It’s not out of the question to see him average a triple double and orchestrate a title team.

Paul George at +3000 is a monster value. PG had his best year since he was in the MVP conversation in 2018-2019, and has matched his smooth shooting with stellar pick-and-roll play. If the Clips go all the way, he’ll be in the conversation.

And then there’s the Lakers: Anthony Davis (+3000) will need to be spectacular for the Lakers to go back-to-back, but will it be enough to pry MVP-5 from James, if he were to win his fifth ‘chip?

The pick: LeBron James (+650)

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