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Betting on the 2021 NBA MVP – January Update

| January 7, 2021 6:50 am PDT
Early Contenders and Sleepers for 2021 NBA MVP

The 2020-21 NBA season hasn’t been going on for that long, and it’s admittedly pretty early. It’s so early, in fact, that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be in the NBA playoffs if the season ended today.

So would the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks.

The Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, and Brooklyn Nets would not.

Take everything you see in the first handful of weeks with a huge grain of salt. But don’t ignore everything you see, either.

So far, the top betting sites haven’t budged too much with certain things like the NBA MVP odds. A lot of the top options you saw when 2021 NBA MVP odds were first released still hang tight above their basketball brethren.

The question, of course, is if you should still trust the players with the best odds, or if there’s another bet to consider.

I’m not necessarily here to decide for you, but it’s certainly worth taking a look at updated odds, top contenders, and sleepers before you bet. To get a fresh perspective, join me as I break things down in this 2021 NBA MVP betting update.

Latest 2021 NBA MVP Odds

Doncic opened the year as the 2021 NBA MVP favorite, and his odds to win have only gotten better at BetOnline. His Mavs have struggled out of the gates, but he’s still putting up a 25-9-7 stat line to open the year.

His numbers and the team success need to be better for him to actually win, and I’m honestly a tad surprised he’s held firm as the top threat despite the slow start.

Giannis Antetokounmpo comes in with the second best NBA MVP odds. He’s also taken a step back compared to last year, and even if he gets back to where he was, it’s hard to envision him getting a third straight MVP trophy.

Everything else looks pretty good here. It’s worth noting that would-be contenders like Anthony Davis and LeBron James have seen their pricing dip. They haven’t been stalwarts to open the year, and if that doesn’t change, they won’t be seen as realistic contenders.

So, who is to be taken seriously, and which sleepers should be worth a look? Let’s break things down further to find out.

2021 NBA MVP Contenders

You can label them favorites or contenders, but the top NBA MVP contenders – in my mind – are the safest bets that really have a chance of winning this thing.

Doncic is the literal favorite when looking at the updates 2021 NBA MVP odds, but he is not alone. Here’s a quick look at the top options that seem to be in the running right now.

Luka Doncic – Mavericks

The numbers are down and Dallas is struggling; two things that would undeniably get in the way of Doncic winning this thing if it keeps up.

Doncic’s been pretty good despite a rough start from long range, but if his shooting balances out and Dallas can start winning more, he absolutely needs to be viewed as a real threat to challenge The Greek Freak.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks

Giannis has been such a monster the past two years, that it seems we’ve been spoiled.

The guy is averaging 26 points and 11 rebounds per game and we’re all yawning over here.

The Bucks have also gotten off to a slow start, and a few of their games have been blowouts. For comparison’s sake, he averages at least two fewer minutes than anyone in the league’s top-10 in scoring.

If Milwaukee can get hot and Giannis can bump his numbers back to where they’d been, he has a chance for that third MVP.

Kevin Durant – Nets

This is where the 2021 NBA MVP betting starts to get interesting. If you ask me right now who will win the 2021 NBA MVP, I don’t see how it would be Giannis or Luka.

Right this minute, it just might be KD. Just the comeback from a torn Achilles alone makes his hot start impressive, but the guy is honestly playing out of his mind.

Not only has KD averaged over 28 points per game, but he’s also connected on 45% of his three-pointers. His MVP tour hits the pause button due to COVID-19 complications, of course.

Stephen Curry – Warriors

The other guy that really stands out among the players with the best NBA MVP odds is Chef Curry.

Curry played a whopping five games last year, but a hand injury and a broken roster cut his season remarkably short. He’s been making up for lost time, averaging an insane 32 points per game, and already leaving his mark on this season with a career-high 62-point outing.

It’s early, but Curry is pushing James Harden to be the NBA’s top scorer, and he’s doing it with less help.

The Warriors run with the league’s fastest pace and don’t defend much, so if Curry can keep this up and Golden State can consistently win, it will be awfully hard to say the 32-year old can’t win.

Nikola Jokic – Nuggets

One other top contender to win the 2021 NBA MVP has to be Jokic, who has blown up for a career-high 22 points per game, and at the moment is also averaging a triple-double on the year.

It will be awfully tough to keep that going for the rest of the season, but he’s doing this as a center. That is mind-boggling, but I don’t think he needs to do something that crazy to truly be in this conversation.

Jokic is scoring enough to be in the mix, he’s among the league’s best rebounders, and his passing is borderline unmatched. If all of his stat-stuffing leads to the Nuggets getting one of the better records in The Association, he’ll absolutely have a shot at this thing.

If he does that and somehow keeps that season long triple-double sustained, it could be as good as his.

Potential NBA MVP Sleepers

There are clear contenders to win the 2021 NBA MVP. Some will be obvious based on odds, and then there are more fringe options like Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis, that in theory are in the mix based on their star power, but statistically aren’t legit threats.

Then there are your NBA MVP sleepers, which may not really have the odds in their favor, but could have the stats to shock later in the year.

Trae Young – Hawks

The first guy that stands out is Young, as he has the Hawks of all teams in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. He’s a big reason for the Hawks’ torrid start – one that includes the league’s second best offense.

That alone would be quite the accomplishment, and it’s especially interesting when you note that all the off-season moves Atlanta did aren’t necessarily the reason for the team’s success.

Young has more shooters around him, but he’s still averaging 28.6 points per game, while dishing out 9.1 dimes per contest. He’s not a good defender and he hasn’t been particularly efficient this year, but it’s hard to look past his +1400 price.

James Harden – Rockets

Harden is going to be a tough sell for a few reasons; he wants out of Houston and could be traded at any time, his image is tarnished a bit, and Houston isn’t even winning consistently right now.

The Rockets also got Harden some help this off-season, and the guy put up 36 and 34 points per game the last two seasons and still didn’t win another MVP award.

That’s pretty crazy, so why should bettors now assume he’d get it with “just” 33 points per game?

I agree with the logic, but Harden is still pacing the league in points per game, so that can’t be ignored. And with a lot of the other would-be MVP contenders struggling early on, he’s kind of standing there all by himself.

Harden may need to get traded (or the Rockets need to be way better) to really have a shot, but he offers plenty of value.

Joel Embiid – 76ers

Lastly, let’s talk about Joel Embiid, who is off to a rock solid start with 23 points and 12 rebounds per game.

The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Embiid actually was on fire to start the year, scoring 29, 27, and 29 points in his first three games.

Since then, he’s topped 26 minutes just once. He simply hasn’t been needed, and he’s doing his damage early in blowouts.

He’s also been more efficient than ever.

More importantly, his Sixers are winning. They’re 6-1 as I write this, and they look like the best team in the Eastern Conference. Talk about being a prisoner of the moment, I know, but Embiid is a monster on the boards, he racks up blocks as well as anyone, and the scoring upside is there.

The numbers do need to be better from a scoring perspective for Embiid to have a real chance, but his impact (and value) are obvious.


You won’t be getting a prediction for who will win the 2021 NBA MVP award out of me just yet. Okay, if you must pry, it’s Curry.

Still, it is super early in the race, and so much can happen in the coming weeks.

As things stand, though, I think the current favorite (Doncic) still makes plenty of sense, and the top threats around him in terms of NBA MVP odds all look plenty viable.

However, there’s major wiggle room for some serious value here (*cough, CURRY, cough*).

I don’t know if I’d necessarily be going dumpster diving for NBA MVP sleepers this year, but some of the other contenders have really nice prices and could provide compelling arguments to win the award.

Of course, those threats would need to keep doing what they’re doing, and team success would factor into the equation as the season goes on.

Not down for betting on who will win the 2021 NBA MVP? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to make money betting on the NBA.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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