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Russell Westbrook’s NBA MVP Odds Have Taken a Hit

Russell Westbrook
Can Russell Westbrook average better than 10 assists a game for a fourth straight year? Photo by Mike Clarens (flickr) [CC License]
  • Russell Westbrook has the ninth shortest odds to win the 2019 NBA MVP Award
  • Can the Thunder guard bounce back from his latest injury?
  • Should bettors look a little further north for this year’s Most Valuable Player?

Russell Westbrook could soon find himself in unfamiliar territory: out of the MVP race. The seven-time All-Star has the ninth shortest average odds to win the 2019 NBA MVP Award, and he’s slipping fast.

A ninth place finish may sound appealing to some players, but it would be a slap in the face to Westbrook, who has dominated the MVP conversation for the past four years. The 29-year-old won the award by a comfortable margin in 2017, and finished in the top five in balloting in 2015, 2016, and 2018.

2019 NBA MVP Average Odds

Westbrook’s longer odds are largely the result of his lack of availability. “Brodie” missed the preseason and the first two games of the year after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee to alleviate inflammation.

Most players tend to be rusty after experiencing that kind of layoff, but Westbrook exploded for 32 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in his return. He was named the Western Conference Player of the Week two weeks later after averaging 28 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds while leading the Thunder to a perfect 3-0 record.

Westbrook appeared to be headed in the right direction until Monday night, when he rolled his ankle after landing awkwardly on Anthony Davis’ foot. He has since been ruled out for Wednesday evening’s game against the Cavaliers, and has been listed as day to day moving forward.

Westbrook likely won’t miss any extended time because of his latest injury, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer he can continue to play at his usual breakneck pace. The UCLA product turns 30 on November 12th and has piled up more miles than many players his age because of his aggressively physical style and deep postseason runs with OKC.

Westbrook likely won’t miss any extended time because of his latest injury, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer he can continue to play at his usual breakneck pace.

There are some players, like Kyle Lowry, whose games can still flourish despite a drop-off in athleticism, but Westbrook depends on his explosive first step and exceptional leaping ability to create separation and finish strong at the hoop. His lifetime 30% three-point shooting percentage suggests that he isn’t about to suddenly morph into a spot-up shooter during the back nine of his career.

2019 NBA MVP Odds at BetOnline

Player Odds to Win the 2019 NBA MVP Award at BetOnline
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) +150
Anthony Davis (Pelicans) +450
Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) +600
Steph Curry (Warriors) +600
LeBron James (Lakers) +750

Beware the Klaw

We remain wary of Wesbrook, but we’re warming up to the MVP candidacy of Kawhi Leonard. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is averaging career-highs in points (26.1) and rebounds (7.6), and has the 10-1 Raptors off to their best start in franchise history. In fact, the only game they’ve lost was on October 29th against Milwaukee when Leonard sat, further illustrating his importance to Toronto.

Leonard is clearly over the lingering injuries that caused him to miss 73 games last season, and has the Raptors playing at an elite level. Toronto ranks in the top five league-wide in offensive rating, net rating, plus/minus, field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, assists and assist-to-turnover ratio. They’re unquestionably the best team in the Eastern Conference, and they owe much of their early season success to Leonard and his ability to dominate the action at both ends of the court. If that’s not valuable, we don’t know what is.

Toronto is unquestionably the best team in the Eastern Conference, and they owe much of their early season success to Leonard.

Grab the Klaw at +600 while you still can, because his odds will invariably shorten as the season goes on.

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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.