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NBA Scoring Title Odds: The Brow and the Beard Are on Top

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Apr 23, 2020 · 10:09 AM PDT

Anthony Davis drives to the hoop
Anthony Davis took his game to new levels during his sixth season with the Pelicans. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr) [CC License]
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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 pick(s)

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.

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