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Russell Westbrook Back Among NBA MVP Favorites

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook has the Thunder in third place in the crowded Western Conference. Photo by Mike Clarens (flickr) [CC License]
  • Russell Westbrook has the ninth shortest odds to win the 2019 NBA MVP Award
  • Will Westbrook’s wonky right knee hold up over the course of the long regular season? 
  • Is the Thunder guard worth a wager at +1500?

Many basketball fans wrote off Russell Westbrook in early September, when the hard-charging Thunder guard underwent a fourth procedure on his troublesome right knee. They worried that it was the beginning of the end for the seven-time All-Star, and that he would never be the same player again without his trademark speed and explosiveness.

Turns out their concerns may have been a little overblown. Westbrook is once again racing down the court at a million miles an hour and dunking defenders into submission. He’s been so good, in fact, that his odds of winning the 2019 NBA MVP Award have improved from +2600 on November 16th to +1500 on December 5th across a number of top online sportsbooks.

Westbrook is now squarely in the top 10, and it’s likely his odds will continue to get even shorter if his play – and his knee – holds up.

2019 NBA MVP Odds

Who Will Win the 2019 NBA MVP Award? Odds at BetOnline (12/05/18)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) +100
LeBron James (Lakers) +550
Anthony Davis (Pelicans) +600
Stephen Curry (Warriors) +800
Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) +900

Westbrook has long been known for generating gaudy stats, and this year has been no exception. The 30-year-old force of nature is putting up 22.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game, and could conceivably average a triple-double for the third straight season. His off-the-charts production earned him Western Conference Player of the Week honors in early November, and he recently tied Hall of Famer Jason Kidd for third most triple-doubles in NBA history.

 

Eye-popping stats are a vital part of any MVP campaign, but one reason why Westbrook’s odds have improved is because his numbers are actually leading to wins. Oklahoma City is third in the crowded Western Conference and has won four of its last five games since Westbrook returned to the lineup following a six-game absence.


Should You Wager on Westbrook?

The real issue with Westbrook has been availability. He’s been brilliant when he’s played but he’s already missed eight of the Thunder’s first 22 games. That’s a big concern because many of his chief competitors have been remarkably healthy. LeBron James has yet to miss a single game, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has played in all but one of the Bucks’ matches this season.

There’s also always the chance that Westbrook’s body will betray him again. The UCLA product has long been one of the league’s most physically aggressive players, and it’s just a matter of time before his downhill style sends him to the sidelines for good. It may not be this year, but the time is coming soon.

If you’re looking for a safer bet, we recommend LeBron. Not only is James averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists, but he’s also single-handedly changed the fortunes of two different franchises.

Not only is James averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists, but he’s also single-handedly changed the fortunes of two different franchises.

The four-time MVP has the 14-9 Lakers in fifth place in the West after five straight years of sub .500 finishes. The Cavs, meanwhile, have gone from being a perennial Eastern Conference champion with LeBron to a 5-18 disaster without him.

MVP candidates like Westbrook, Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis have all had a dramatic impact on their respective teams, but LeBron has had a dramatic impact on the entire league. Snap him up at +550 while you still can.

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Ryan Murphy began his love affair with sports journalism at the age of nine when he wrote his first article about his little league baseball team. He has since authored his own column for Fox Sports, and now serves as SBD’s resident NBA and MLB expert.