- MVP James Harden and Anthony Davis are being projected NBA scoring title favorites
- Is two-time scoring champion Russell Westbrook being overlooked?
- Do the Lakers want to turn LeBron into a scorer?
The NBA season is right around the corner, and sportsbooks have started a great betting debate.
We may be destined to see the Warriors again on the games grandest stage (let’s be honest), but here’s one thing that isn’t so certain: picking the NBA scoring champion for this season.
Odds to Win the 2018-19 NBA Scoring Title
|Name||Team||Odds to lead the NBA in Scoring|
|Anthony Davis||New Orleans Pelicans||+300|
|James Harden||Houston Rockets||+300|
|LeBron James||Los Angeles Lakers||+650|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||Milwaukee Bucks||+800|
|Kevin Durant||Golden State Warriors||+1000|
|Kyrie Irving||Boston Celtics||+1200|
|Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers||+1400|
|Devin Booker||Phoenix Suns||+1400|
|Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors||+1400|
|Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder||+1600|
|DeMar DeRozan||San Antonio Spurs||+1800|
|Victor Oladipo||Indiana Pacers||+1800|
|Joel Embiid||Philadelphia 76ers||+2000|
|Donovan Mitchell||Utah Jazz||+2500|
|Kawhi Leonard||Toronto Raptors||+2800|
That’s quite a table of stars. The NBA has a bevy of them. So let’s try to figure this out.
Should the Beard and the Brow Be Favorites?
Placing Harden at the top of this list makes sense, because he is the reigning scoring champion and defending MVP.
Since coming into his own in Houston, Harden has never scored less than 25 points a game. The last three years? He’s been unreal, averaging 29 ppg in 2016, 29.1 ppg in 2017 and 30.4 ppg last season. He’s actually enjoyed a career year in scoring for the last five seasons.
Davis is legit too. There’s an interesting scoring pattern we’ve seen in his career, like a kid outgrowing his clothes … only on a drastic scale, like shopping at Gap Kids and then immediately to the Big and Tall store.
Every two seasons, Davis’ scoring average spikes by nearly four points a game. After his second season he moved from 20.8 ppg in 2013 to 24.4 ppg in 2014.
Every two seasons, Davis’ scoring average spikes by nearly four points a game.
Two years later, he jumped to 28 ppg. Last year, he upped that mark to a career best 28.3 ppg. Does he take a leap again? If he does, he’ll be in the conversation.
Westbrook Has Long Odds for Third Scoring Crown
Russ in the 10 spot is crazy.
Westbrook has been the scoring champion twice in the last four years, the most recent being his MVP season in 2016, when he averaged 31.6 per contest.
Russell Westbrook became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in assists per game the season after winning the scoring title. Also, James Harden became the first player to win the scoring title the season after leading it in assists.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 12, 2018
Russ is the ultimate value bet of value bets at +1800. Kevin Durant (+1000) and Steph Curry (+1400) are ahead of him, and we know that since they’ve become teammates they’ve become better players, but sacrificed their own numbers in the process. Curry’s best scoring average since being paired is 21 ppg, while Durant tops out at 26.4 ppg.
Past 5 NBA Scoring Champions
|Year||Winner||Team||Points Per Game|
|2017||James Harden||Houston Rockets||30.4|
|2016||Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder||31.6|
|2015||Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors||30.1|
|2014||Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder||28.1|
|2013||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||32.0|
Meanwhile, Westbrook is the ultimate alpha in OKC, with Paul George serving as a Durant-Lite, making him a deft, but clearly second option. Westbrook has led the league in FG attempts three of the last four years, and that volume isn’t going down.
Can LeBron Tap into His Inner Kobe?
The Lakers’ newest addition is sitting in the three-hole, and is given an outside shot at taking the scoring crown. It’s been 11 years since James has averaged 30 points a game, though he did finish year 15 off by averaging 27.5 ppg and actually outscoring Harden.
The MVP case for LeBron James pic.twitter.com/IrfmyVKBPb
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 18, 2018
It’s intriguing. LeBron really does want to make a good impression on his new fans, witness him suiting up for every preseason game so far this year, something that was an afterthought in Cleveland.
— NBA (@NBA) October 5, 2018
And schematically, we need to see just how Luke Walton plans to unleash him. If it involves more time in the low block, we could see an uptick in scoring, simply because he’s so damn good in close. Is that enough to add four more points a game to that average? Perhaps.
The Brow and the Beard are worthy contenders and a good bet. But if you’re not into playing it safe, Westbrook is the one to go after. And don’t be concerned about his knee injury – it works in his favor! You only need to play 58 games in the regular season to qualify for the scoring title. Another reason Russ is my horse in this race.