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Betting on the NBA MVP Race

There are plenty of individual awards in the NBA, but the most prestigious one is arguably the Regular Season MVP. The prize is given to the player who performed the best over the course of a gruesome regular season that includes 82 games.

It’s one of the highest individual honors in professional basketball and also has a direct impact on each player’s earning potential. Many people love to argue about which superstar deserves the NBA MVP each year. Some even place real money wagers on who will win the award.

Our NBA MVP betting guide can help you if you want to bet on this award. We teach you how to find the best opportunities for making money with some useful tips and strategy advice.

We also keep you up to date on the current NBA MVP race. We provide the latest odds and analysis of the contenders, along with predictions and picks from our experts.

NBA MVP Odds and Predictions for 2020/21

After Giannis Antetokounmpo won two MVP awards in a row, a bunch of other players will be trying to dethrone the Greek Freak.

As the season progresses, we’ll be providing all kinds of insight into betting on the winner of the NBA MVP.  You’ll find it all on our NBA blog, and we’ll also list the latest posts right here.

In short, this is THE place to follow the 2021 NBA MVP race.

Betting on the 2021 NBA MVP Award - Odds, Top Contenders, and Sleepers

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks have dominated the NBA regular season in the past two years and that brought the Greek Freak back-to-back MVP awards. Plenty of superstars will be eager to steal the prize next season and it should be an epic battle. The...

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Pre-Season NBA MVP Odds and Analysis

Here are the odds for the NBA MVP award prior to the start of the 2020-21 season.

Luka Doncic +450
Giannis Antetokounmpo +500
Anthony Davis +800
Steph Curry +800
LeBron James +1000
Kevin Durant +1600
James Harden +1600
Kawhi Leonard +2000
Jayson Tatum +2000
Nikola Jokic +2000

As you can see, Giannis is listed up there with the favorites, but the sportsbooks believe that Luka Doncic, Anthony Davis, and a couple of other guys have a good chance too.

How Does the NBA MVP Award Work?

NBA MVP award for the regular season

It’s important to understand how the NBA Most Valuable Player of the Year award works if you are going to bet real money on the potential winner.

Let’s begin by exploring the spirit of the MVP award. As the name suggests, it covers the performance in the regular season only and some people forget that.

The winner is decided by a panel of 100 NBA journalists who are selected by the league. The goal during the recruitment process is to only pick media members who don’t have affiliations with any teams.

Once the final group is complete, every member casts his vote for the top five players in the league for the regular season. Here’s how the scoring works, based on the position of the players.

Position Points
1st 10
2nd 7
3rd 5
4th 3
5th 1

The athlete with the most points becomes the NBA Regular Season MVP. The maximum amount of 1,000 points was achieved only once so far in the league’s history, by Stephen Curry who became the unanimous MVP in 2015-16.

The current system was deployed 1980-81 and has been in the same format since. If you want to learn how the winner was selected before that, we recommend you to check out this article.

How to Bet on the NBA MVP Race

Betting on the NBA Regular Season MVP is fairly easy, and most sportsbooks offer this market. All you have to do is pick the player you think will win and place your wager. It’s that simple.

Actually winning cash is much harder, though. It’s crucial to approach the process seriously.

If you are going to invest real money betting on MVP winner, you must prepare well and follow all the important basics of sports gambling.

Our first piece of advice here is that you shouldn’t just back a player because you like them, even if they do have a chance of winning. You need to properly evaluate their chances of winning, assess their odds, and see if there is any actual value in betting on them.

If your analysis leads you to believe that the odds for a player represents good value, THEN you can go for it. Check out our guide to finding value in betting odds for more on this.

It’s also a good idea to join secure sportsbooks that offer high prices and cool promotions. That will help your cause immensely and we advise you to use our recommended NBA betting sites. They operate under a legit license and offer better value than the competition.

Top Tip
If you join more than one online betting site, you will have the chance to shop for the best odds and that’s another way to maximize your returns.

When you’re betting on the NBA MVP, remember that the prize applies to the regular season games only. Forget about the playoffs, even if a player leads his team to an NBA Championship.

A player’s performances in the 82 games before the postseason are what matters when you bet on the NBA Regular Season MVP.

These are the fundamental rules you need to follow, but they likely won’t be enough to make you successful on their own.

You’ll need some more advanced tips if you want the best chance of making a profit, so let’s move on to the next section of our NBA MVP betting guide.

NBA MVP Betting Tips and Strategy

Much as we’d like to, we can’t offer you a guaranteed system for correctly predicting the winner of the NBA MVP each season.

However, the following NBA MVP betting tips can certainly help you to find profitable opportunities in the odds and place wagers with a good chance of a return.

Team Record Matters

The NBA MVP is obviously an individual award. But it would be foolish to ignore the team performances.

The “most valuable” part of the prize suggests that the winner should not only post great individual performances, but actually help his franchise win games.

After all, that’s the whole point of basketball! That’s why the honor almost exclusively ends up with a guy who led his team to a strong record during the regular season.

Let’s take a look at the last ten winners and you can decide for yourself if that’s important.

Season Player Team Regular season Wins
2019-20 Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 56
2018-19 Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks 60
2017-18 James Harden Houston Rockets 65
2016-17 Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder 47
2015-16 Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 73
2014-15 Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors 67
2013-14 Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder 59
2012-13 LeBron James Miami Heat 66
2011-12 LeBron James Miami Heat 46 (Lockout season)
2010-11 Derrick Rose Chicago Bulls 62

As you can see, the simple formula “the best player from the best team” usually works when it comes to the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award.

The one obvious exception is Russ Westbrook in 2017. But Westbrook did average triple-double to win.

You should always look at strong teams and their leaders, as they are the most likely candidates for the NBA MVP.

With that said, there can also be merit in backing players in weaker teams. If you think that a team has the potential to overachieve, and one player is likely to drive that, that player could be worth betting on.

The Importance of Individual Feats

After talking about team performance, let’s move to individual stats.

The NBA MVP award is supposed to go to the top basketball player in the best basketball league in the world, so it’s safe to say that showcasing your talents matters.

An athlete must be extraordinary to win this honor and it should be obvious that he’s special.

Players need to fill in the stats sheet to win the NBA MVP, but they must also do it efficiently and with swagger.

When betting on the NBA Most Valuable Player, always look for stars that steal the show when they are on the floor.

There are rarely more than a few players who have a genuine shot at reaching such heights and those are the ones you should be looking at.

Hype Plays a Part

We already explained that media representatives play a huge role, as the MVP winner is decided by NBA journalists invited by the league.

These journalists always try to stay as objective as possible, but they are humans after all and they are influenced by their surroundings. When the hype around a player is huge, that can improve his chances to win the award.

Just imagine the following scenario.

You have two athletes who have a strong case after leading their teams to a sublime regular season and playing to an extremely high level.

One of them is a quiet guy who doesn’t speak much and prefers to stay outside of the media circus. He’s not active on social media and hates fame. Meanwhile, his opponent is an outspoken guy who has a big personality and enjoys every single moment under the spotlight.

Who do you think has a higher chance to win?

The MVP Award is not a popularity contest, but players that generate buzz around their persona certainly boost their case.

Many NBA MVP winners have had big personalities.

The Context of the League Changes

The dominating style in the NBA never stays the same and the league is constantly changing. We saw a ton of mid-range jumpers in the 1980s, followed by unstoppable big men in the 1990s and 2000s.

That was replaced by data-driven systems and outside shooting in the 2010s. Naturally, the meta game has an impact on the MVP awards.

A good sharpshooter will always be more valuable in an NBA era that revolves around three-pointers and the biggest stars usually are the guys that fit the current trends the best.

There’s a case to be made that the MVP-caliber talents can excel under any circumstances and that’s certainly true.

That doesn’t mean they can reach the top and win the award, however, so you should always consider that when betting on the Regular Season MVP in the NBA.

Offense Is More Important Than Defense

This may not be 100% true in the wider context of what it takes to win the NBA Championship, but it’s certainly the perception.

While the art of defending in basketball can deliver plenty of joy to the biggest fans of the sport, the casual viewers are more impressed by dunks, no-look passes, and other offensive plays.

That has been the nature of the league for ages now and that affects the way each star is evaluated.

A solid two-way NBA player can often be perceived as less valuable than an elite offensive player who is a liability in defense.

Defense just isn’t sexy, and the players that typically catch the eye are the ones doing the business in offense.

That means offense usually matters more when the NBA MVP is selected, so you should take that into account as well.

NBA MVP Stats and Records

We have prepared some interesting stats and records related to the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

These can be useful for any bets you intend to place. They’re also fun to know, so let’s take a look.

There are only fourteen players in NBA history that have won the MVP honor more than once. Here they are.

Player Awards
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 6
Bill Russell 5
Michael Jordan 5
Wilt Chamberlain 4
LeBron James 4
Moses Malone 3
Larry Bird 3
Magic Johnson 3
Bob Pettit 2
Karl Malone 2
Tim Duncan 2
Steve Nash 2
Stephen Curry 2
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2


There are 14 cases in which a player has won the award in consecutive years. That’s why starting from the previous holder when betting on the NBA MVP is probably a good idea.

Another interesting record shows that centers have won the award most often. Here’s the breakdown by position.

Position Awards
Center 25
Power forward 12
Point Guard 11
Small forward 9
Shooting guard 8

The centers have dominated the league with 25 victories, but that number is misleading. The last player in that position to become the NBA MVP was Shaquille O’Neal back in 2000 season.

The league has moved on from old-school big man and you should consider that when placing a wager.

The past two decades have been dominated by forwards and guards. The trend will likely continue in the foreseeable future as well.

Finally, let’s take a look at the teams that have produced three or more MVP winners in NBA history.

Team Awards
Boston Celtics 10
Los Angeles Lakers 8
Philadelphia 76ers 6
Chicago Bulls 6
Milwaukee Bucks 5
Houston Rockets 4
San Antonio Spurs 3
Phoenix Suns 3
Golden State Warriors 3

It’s hardly a shocker to see the Celtics and the Lakers on top of this chart.

What comes as a surprise is that Boston’s last MVP player was Larry Bird in 1986, while Kobe Bryant won while wearing purple and gold in 2007 and the Lakers haven’t featured an MVP winner since.

If you want to view all MVP winners throughout the years and a breakdown of the voting process, feel free to visit NBA’s official page on the topic.

Betting on Other NBA Awards

If you liked our guide to NBA MVP betting, you should check out our pages on the individual awards.

  • Betting on the NBA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Betting on the NBA Most Improved Player of the Year
  • Betting on the NBA Rookie of the Year

You should also take a look at our main NBA betting guide for a ton more information and advice about betting on the biggest and best basketball league in the world.

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