Contenders for the 2018/19 NBA MVP – Betting Odds, Analysis, and Pick

By Noah Davis
Published on September 14, 2018
MVP Odds NBA 2018

The race for the 2018-19 NBA MVP is on come October 16th. Houston Rockets star guard James Harden will look to defend his title as league MVP, but he’s sure to face a long line of worthy challengers.

Harden enjoyed an elite statistical run during the 2017-18 NBA season, but it wasn’t just about personal gain. The Rockets ascended to the top of the NBA and finished the year with the league’s best record.

Houston would even go on to fall just one game short of reaching the NBA Finals.

It was a worthy NBA MVP win for Harden, especially considering he was arguably just as worthy the year before. The honor went to Mr. Triple Double himself, Russell Westbrook, and the OKC star is sure to be among the select few that will have a legit case to take Harden down.

In fact, there are 18 viable NBA MVP candidates per top NBA betting sites like In an effort to correctly gauge who will win, let’s quickly go over every single player’s case for winning this year.

All odds that are referenced in this post were taken from on 9/11/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of writing.

LeBron James (+300)

James is a former MVP and quite possibly the greatest player to ever play the game. I know other players have been plenty deserving, but it’s a tad unnerving that he’s gone five straight seasons without winning the award.

Routinely putting up elite numbers and lifting garbage Cleveland teams to the Finals, he’s just been disrespected far too often.

Now he’s going to LA to rescue the Lakers and add a brand-new chapter to his already insanely impressive legacy. If he even gets a bad Lakers squad to the playoffs and posts his usual jaw-dropping numbers in the process, this award has to be his.

Anthony Davis (+450)

If you’re looking at sheer talent, big numbers, and a player’s impact on their team, The Brow is near the top when it comes to the 2018-19 NBA MVP voting.

That’s the case with his MVP odds, too, seeing as he had probably his best season to date last year.

I felt he should be in the running for the past season, but I also admit that was Harden’s award to lose.

This year, The Brow is very much in play, especially if he puts up even bigger numbers and gets New Orleans to 50+ wins and a second straight playoff appearance. He might need King James and the Lakers to struggle a bit, but he’s a very interesting option.

James Harden (+500)

I’m a tad surprised Harden doesn’t have the best or at least the second-best odds to win NBA MVP this year. He put up a monstrous 2017-18 campaign and lifted the Rockets to the top of the league in the process.

James Harden

If he follows up with an encore this year, he may be a lock to repeat. Houston again ending the year with the NBA’s top seed and getting deep into the playoffs would absolutely keep Harden in the mix.

It will be tough for him to put up even better stats with CP3 and Melo on hand, but Harden is fully capable of repeating as league MVP.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (+550)

There could be a passing of the torch in the NBA, so to speak.

While most eyes are on King James or Harden, it just might be The Greek Freak who rises up the ranks and wows his way to his first MVP win.

The Milwaukee Bucks are on the map because of his elite versatility, and he just keeps dominating with awesome numbers behind him.

If the Bucks are even better this year and surprise with a push for the top seed in the East, he has to get serious consideration.

Kawhi Leonard (+800)

Leonard is a special situation, and I love his +800 price. Despite his elite two-way ability, he’s never won a league MVP yet. I think that could change this year if all goes well.

He forced his way out of San Antonio, but he could rehab his public image in a hurry if he helps take the Raptors to the next level.

Toronto already had the best record in the Eastern Conference last year, but if Leonard comes in and plays the way he can, they might truly be the best bet to get to the NBA Finals.

Turning Toronto into title threats would put Leonard on the map, while he’s probably going to put up 25+ points per game along the way. Add in his elite defensive impact, and MVP voters will have to put him near the top.

Kevin Durant (+900)

I personally won’t vouch for KD to win the NBA MVP ever again.

He remains dominant and at this point may very well be the best overall player in the league. However, he’s on a stacked Warriors team that has a different “best player” on a nightly basis.

Kevin Durant

Getting so much help from teammates like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, not to mention the addition of big man Demarcus Cousins, has Durant’s impact losing some luster.

He’s still a huge reason why they’re so good and will probably win another championship this year, but the numbers won’t compare to the top NBA MVP candidates, and Golden State would still survive without him.

Russell Westbrook (+1200)

Westbrook could have easily won a second straight MVP award last year, and nobody would have been upset.

Sure, OKC regressed slightly and didn’t do much in the playoffs, but the guy posted yet another triple-double on the year and willed the Thunder into postseason play.

OKC has a better roster around him now, so it might be difficult for him to keep putting up these insane numbers. That being said, if he drops a third straight triple-double average on the year, MVP voters absolutely have to give him a long, hard look.

Ben Simmons (+1600)

Simmons is going up against quite an elite field of NBA talent here, but he’s one of a handful of players that could rival Westbrook in the triple-double conversation.

The 22-year-old dropped 15-8-8 on the year in what amounted to a rookie season, and he’s only going to get better. Not only that, but he was able to dominate and run Philly’s high-octane offense despite not possessing any threat as an outside shooter (0 three-point makes).

With Simmons openly working to add that aspect to his game, he should be even nastier in year two. Depending on how much improvement he flashes, he very well could launch himself into the NBA MVP conversation.

Joel Embiid (+1600)

The same goes for 76ers teammate Embiid, but he doesn’t make quite the overall impact Simmons does on a per-play basis. Embiid can do it all and drastically upgrades Philly’s defense, but he struggles to stay healthy.

The talent and role are there for Embiid to be a two-way monster, and if the Sixers morph into the best team in the East due to his presence, he’d be part of the discussion. I just don’t trust him enough to bet on him to do so.

Stephen Curry (+1600)

Curry is a former two-time NBA MVP, so you have to give him odds, and you have to at least lend a cursory glance his way.

Stephen Curry

That’s about as far as I’ll go here, for the very same reasons I’m not propping up Kevin Durant too much.

If you’re going to be the top player in the NBA, you at least need to for sure be the best player on your own team and put up big numbers in the process.

It’s tough to gauge that with a team as stacked as the Dubs, and because of their talent, nobody is running away with the stats they probably need to take down this trophy.

Kyrie Irving (+1800)

The latter argument probably keeps Kyrie Irving from winning league MVP, too.

He played a huge hand in getting the Celtics near the top of the league a year ago, but he’s also just one piece of a very deep and versatile puzzle.

He’s surely the driving force behind the Celtics these days, but he’s got a ton of help, and in his first year as Boston’s new leader, his numbers weren’t really on an MVP level. Maybe that changes, but you could also argue his long list of career injuries could trip him up.

The value is nice at +1800, but Irving doesn’t really stand out as a main threat to claim league MVP.

Karl-Anthony Towns (+2500)

I love KAT’s talent, but he is being held back in Minnesota right now. He should be dominating the league with his elite inside/outside ability, but the Timberwolves insist on making Jimmy Butler the face of their franchise.

The price is nice, but as long as Butler is in Minny, KAT doesn’t stand a chance to win MVP.

Damian Lillard (+4000)

Thrillard is a very interesting bet, as he’s done nothing but put up big numbers and carry Portland to the playoffs time and time again.

He just happens to keep doing it in a league where other guys are enjoying better statistical runs or leading their team to far more success.

Lillard has the talent and role to drop crazy points/dimes numbers and be in the conversation, but I don’t think his team success will get him where he needs to go.

Donovan Mitchell (+5000)

Mitchell is also interesting, just because his crazy rookie season might be the tip of the iceberg (20.5 points per game) of what he can do.

Donovan Mitchell

He was a huge reason why the Jazz made the playoffs and even won a series despite losing Gordon Hayward in free agency. If he can approach 30 points per game and get Utah over 50 wins, he could return elite value.

That wouldn’t guarantee a win, simply because he doesn’t do that much other than score the ball. It’d get him into the mix, though.

John Wall (+7500)

Wall seems to always put up great numbers, but the Wizards always tend to leave you wanting for more. He is also routinely banged up, and last year, he struggled to play even half the season.

Wall’s talent and impact for Washington are obvious, but if the Wizards can’t take a massive step forward on his watch, he has zero chance here.

A guy that has only once topped 20+ points per game is probably going to need a massive blow-up season as a scorer, too. I doubt that’s happening.

Victor Oladipo (+7500)

Dipo finally arrived during the 2017-18 season, as the Pacers trusted in him and gave him the platform to maximize his playmaking and scoring ability.

That led to his best statistical season (23 points per game) of his career and also vaulted Indy to the top half of the Eastern Conference.

I’m not entirely sure the latter is saying all that much, but with LeBron James now in La La Land, Oladipo has a clear path to impressing further this year. If he can up his numbers and dish out some more dimes en route to the top seed in the East, people will have to take notice.

DeMar DeRozan (+10000)

DMR got hosed when the Raptors traded him. He’s always been an elite isolation scorer and played a huge hand in building Toronto up into a yearly playoff monster.

The Raptors hit a wall and opted to aim high with the Kawhi Leonard trade, however. That was a punch to the gut, but in San Antonio, there’s a real chance for DeRozan to finally realize his true potential.

Under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich, there’s an argument DeRozan can improve his outside shooting, be a bigger factor on defense, and help the Spurs morph back into a title contender.

DeRozan was never a realistic NBA MVP betting option even when he was putting up 27 points per game two seasons ago. However, if he can do that again and improve the rest of his game, he just might be this season.

Jimmy Butler (+10000)

I find it a little funny that Butler is both listed on here and also way below his teammate, Karl-Anthony Towns. He is still a difference-maker at both ends of the court and a true star, but KAT is the more intriguing talent.

Vegas is getting it right, though. Butler isn’t the best player on his own team anymore, and he really doesn’t have a chance to win league MVP. He can still put up points and take on the opposition’s top scorer, but his numbers just aren’t gaudy enough.

Health became an issue last year, too, while all of Butler’s efforts will go to waste on a T’Wolves team that just isn’t that good. None of that sounds like MVP-type stuff to me.

Who Is Missing?

As this breakdown suggests, this is a very strong list of MVP candidates, and they all have at least a mild case. That being said, there are some huge names being left off the list.

I feel like I could build a strong case for Nikola Jokic, Paul George, Chris Paul, and LaMarcus Aldridge.

These guys are superstars, and Jokic is still on the rise. They all could play a huge hand for their respective franchises making the playoffs next year, and in the brutal Western Conference, that’s saying something.

Guys like Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Jrue Holiday, and even Devin Booker should all at least have some odds being attached to them.

Even if they can’t win, bettors can have a little fun with it.

Who Will Win the 2018-19 NBA MVP?

There are a lot of strong options here, and as I noted, there are even some star players that you can’t place bets on but probably should be able to.

We have to work with what the top NBA betting sites give us, though, and I do think they have the 2018-19 NBA MVP winner listed here.

To me, it’s down to James, Harden, and Westbrook.

If Russ puts up a triple-double yet again, and OKC really challenges for a top spot in the West, he’ll be tough to deny. If Harden is as good as he was a year ago or better, and the Rockets only improve, he’s a viable threat to repeat.

This probably all comes down to King James, though.

He is taking on an insane amount of risk to finish his illustrious career up in Hollywood, but if he gets a young Lakers team to the playoffs in his first try, he’s immediately the front-runner.

If the stats are as good as ever and/or the Lake Show is actually a top-four team, he’s a flat-out lock for me. He’s the favorite, but the logic is there, and a +300 price is pretty nice. I have no qualms about eating the chalk here.

PICKLeBron James+300
Contenders for the 2018/19 NBA MVP - Betting Odds, Analysis, and Pick
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Contenders for the 2018/19 NBA MVP - Betting Odds, Analysis, and Pick
Here we map out this year’s NBA MVP winner by building a case for each realistic candidate. Find betting odds, predictions and free picks.
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