- Luka Doncic is set to miss at least six games with an ankle injury
- LeBron James’ price has shortened to +500
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is the runaway favorite at -300
Luka Doncic has suffered an ankle injury that will see him miss at least six games. As a result, his NBA MVP odds have lengthened drastically from second-favorite at +450 to +600, putting him behind LeBron James and James Harden.
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is priced at -300. The Milwaukee Bucks own the best record in the NBA and Antetokounmpo is putting up historic numbers.
James’ Lakers teammate Anthony Davis rounds out the top five at +1200. Davis has recently missed some time, and has drifted out of genuine MVP consideration.
2019-20 NBA MVP Odds
Odds taken Feb. 3rd
Can Doncic Bounce Back?
This isn’t Doncic’s first absence of the season. The Slovenian phenom missed four games back in December. He hasn’t been in quite the same rhythm since then, despite continuing to post great numbers (he has only shot over 50% from the field in a game once since the turn of the year).
If he’s to mount a serious challenge for MVP, he will need to get back to the sort of form we saw in the first weeks of the season.
Doncic has the ability to put a run of performances together that changes the MVP debate once he returns. He has passed the thirty point mark 19 times this season and posted 12 triple-doubles. A few more of those down the stretch, while leading the Dallas Mavericks potentially to homecourt advantage in the first round, could put Doncic right up alongside Antetokounmpo.
It is a big ask. Doncic struggled in the second half of last season, and he would need the Mavericks to go on a great run over the last couple of months. The price needs to get a bit longer before there’s value.
James vs Freak
After a cold January from Harden and with Doncic missing a few games, James – as the odds suggest – is the Greek Freak’s closest challenger. Chasing a fifth regular season MVP, LeBron has missed just two games so far and leads the league in assists per game.
Assuming Antetokounmpo keeps performing to this level (and there’s little to suggest otherwise), James needs to be more than durable over the rest of the season. The Lakers have impressed all year on their way to a 37-11 record, but that doesn’t come close to Milwaukee’s 41-7.
Antetokounmpo is putting up gaudy numbers; 15.4 boards per 36 minutes, 63% on two-point attempts and 35.2 points per 36. For good measure, he’s also registering 6.8 dimes per 36 minutes, a career-high.
While James has put in some of his best regular season defense in five years, he’s still a long way off his MVP rival in that category as well. Antetokounmpo ranks among the best players in the NBA at defending shots at the rim and can guard all five positions.
Perimeter shooting and playmaking remain in James’ favor. The team record matters when it comes to MVP voting, though, and these Bucks are showing no signs of slowing down. Their net-rating is over 11, and even when Antetokounmpo sits, they are comfortably outscoring opponents. Barring a significant injury, Milwaukee would have to go on a major slide for Antetokounmpo to miss out on MVP.
The presence of Davis still counts against James, too. Despite another wonderful campaign from Khris Middleton, Antetokounmpo doesn’t have the same issue. Milwaukee is his team, he’s the undisputed best player, and they are cruising towards one of the best records in league history.
Risk of injury might be enough to tempt some bettors to back James, because -300 for Antetokounmpo isn’t going to attract much interest. That said, it would be a shock if the Greek Freak doesn’t go back-to-back.
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