NBA MVP Futures for 2020-21


The 2020-21 NBA season has just about arrived on our doorstep, hot on the heels of the completion of the last campaign. With free agency and the Draft pretty much in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look ahead at the season about to unfold. That’s why we’re here to help bettors out by taking a look at some of the best 2020-21 NBA MVP futures bets.

It has been quite a whirlwind for NBA fans. The 2019-20 season ended months later than usual because of the hiatus that interrupted the year back in March. And the new season is quickly about the begin, with the first games scheduled for December 22, meaning that bettors at NBA betting sites better be ready to act.

That means we’re just a few weeks away from the beginning of the chase for the NBA championship. While it’s a team sport and the battle for the NBA crown takes center stage, the league is filled with some of the most electrifying individual talent of any sport. It’s no surprise then that many people take an interest in the league to see which of those stars shine the brightest.

Of all the individual awards handed out by the NBA at the end of each season, none means more than the Most Valuable Player award. For those who are wondering, the player who wins it receives the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, so named after the league’s first commissioner. But it’s really all about the cachet of those three letters: M-V-P.

All you have to do is to look through the list of some of the award’s past multiple winners of the award. Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Moses Malone are the guys who have won it at least three times, and there is no doubting they are among the elite to ever play the game.

This Year’s MVP Race

As far as this year, many past winners will be lining up to try it again. James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose have all won the trophy, and all, with the exception of Rose and perhaps Westbrook, are in the running to do it again. Being a multiple winner puts you in a rare class.

But there are also those who are either up and coming and want to ascend to MVP level, or those have been established but have barely come up short in past years. You could make a legitimate case for several perennial All-Stars who could be ready to compete for MVP this season.

What That Means Is That, Right Now, It’s Anybody’s Race

And that means that futures bettors can take advantage right now with odds that they might not get once the season begins. You can make your wager now and reap the rewards when the award is announced next year.

To that end, we’re here to help you by presenting you with what we feel are the best 2020-21 NBA MVP bets. We’ll take a look at the top candidates as well as moving down the betting odds list to check out some of the sleepers. Finally, we’ll tell you who we think are the best bets you can make for the NBA MVP award this season.

The Top Ten 2020-21 NBA MVP Contenders

Luka Doncic (+350)

After making massive improvement between his rookie and second year, all signs are pointing up for Doncic. He finished fourth in the voting a year ago, and then made the most memorable shot of the postseason with his game-winning three-pointer against Los Angeles. The stats were arguably there last year for MVP consideration: rounded averages of 29 points, nine assists and nine rebounds per contest.
There are some concerns about Doncic, including some of the nagging injuries that popped up in the postseason. He will have a lot on his plate, especially if Kristaps Porzingis misses time, as expected, at the beginning of the year. It could be a case of the guy wearing down if he doesn’t get enough help.

He’ll also probably need the Mavs as a team to move up into the top half of the Western Conference. The stats will be there, for sure, and the possibility of him threatening a triple double average is very real. But it is interesting to see him as the favorite, considering the achievements of some of the guys around him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (+600)

The Greek Freak comes in as the two-time defending NBA Most Valuable Player award. And that, you would have to think, acts as a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, he knows what it takes to get it done and, considering he’s only entering his age 26 season, he could, unbelievably enough, still have heights to ascend.

But only three players in the history of the NBA has won this award three years in a row. The last of those was Larry Bird from 1984 to 1986, so you’re talking about 35 years since it happened. It’s natural that voters get fatigued voting for the same guy year after year.

Giannis also might see a slight dip in his stats this year, what with Jrue Holliday now on board, giving them more of a Big 3 than a Big 2. You could say that Antetokounmpo has improvements to make, specifically in his three-point and free-throw shooting. But even with that, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll make it an MVP three-peat.

Stephen Curry (+700)

A lot has happened since Curry won this award in two straight years in 2015 and 2016. And the Warriors continue to be a magnet for drama, with the news that Klay Thompson will miss a second straight season just the latest. Curry himself is coming off a year where he was sidelined much of the year, albeit with the kind of injury that won’t linger.

But it’s also important to remember that Curry missed big chunks of the previous two years with injury as well. And he is now entering his age-32 season. You have to go back to Karl Malone in 1999 to find a player that old Malone was 35!) to win the MVP. Time is definitely not on Steph’s side.

Curry and the Warriors might not be a championship contender, although the draft of James Wiseman and trade for Kelly Oubre could suggest otherwise. It feels like Curry might be more of a facilitator with this team, however. When you factor that in with everything else we talked about above, you get the feeling that you’re not getting much of a futures betting value at 7 to 1.

Anthony Davis (+900)

It’s striking to think that Davis was only sixth in the MVP voting a year ago. You start to wonder how much more the guy can do to attract the attention for the award. And then you remember that, no matter influential he was in heling the Lakers to their title a year ago, he still is essentially the second banana to LeBron James.

That is not going to change this year. You hate to even talk about these things, but it would seem like the only route for Davis to get to the MVP would be with a LeBron injury. And even then, he would have to prove that he could keep the Lakers playing at an elite level during that span.

Like Giannis, Davis is one of those guys who is still surprisingly young; this will be age-27 season. He figures to be among the league leaders in points, rebounds, free throws made and blocked shots for the defending champs. But it still doesn’t feel like that will be enough, consider betting on him to win defensive player of the year.

LeBron James (+900)

The all-time leaders in MVP trophies are Michael Jordan and Bill Russell with five apiece. LeBron sits at four, all of which he won in an incredible five-year stretch from 2009 to 2013. That means he is an eight-year drought, and it’s unlikely that he’ll have too many more opportunities, as indestructible as he looks entering his age 36 season (which, if he wins it, would also make him the oldest MVP in league history.)

Yet this is LeBron we’re talking about, and he’s coming off a year when the game seemed ridiculously easy to him. Putting him at point guard allowed him to display his unparalleled vision. The result was his first ever time leading the league in assists.

The sentiment will definitely be in James’ favor, which is why it seems like those 9 to 1 odds are a bit steep. He finished second a year ago behind Giannis, as we mentioned how the voters could start to move off him. When in doubt: Bet LeBron.

James Harden (+1000)

Perhaps more than anybody else in the Top 10 of the betting odds for 2020-21 NBA MVP, Harden is a wild card. That seems like an odd thing to say for the guy who has averaged more than 25 points per game in Houston and is the three-time defending scoring champ. But no one knows what the Rockets are going to look like, or if Harden will even be there.
On the one hand, let’s imagine that he stays. The Rockets have a new coach and some size, so the small ball era is likely over. In new addition Christian Wood, Harden could have a young complimentary piece that fits ideally with his skill set.

But Harden has also been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, and the team mentioned most is Brooklyn. Oddly enough, that might hurt his MVP chances, because he would be sharing the spotlight with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. His best hope for a second MVP (he won in 2018) could be to stay put and carry a less star-studded team to a great season.

Damian Lillard (+1200)

All Lillard did last season was average career-highs in points, assists, three-pointers made, free-throws made, and shooting percentage. He also electrified the bubble with his heroics in rallying the Blazers to the postseason. And the charisma factor is there, both in terms of his half-court jumpers and overall willingness to rise to the occasion, and you could definitely envision him as a sleeper.

The main question will be how much the Blazers improve. It’s hard to imagine an MVP coming from a #8 seed or the like, unless Lillard’s stats are completely out of this world. There is also a concern that he could wear down; he led the NBA in minutes played a year ago.

Lillard will have all the usage he can handle, so it’s doubtful his stats will flag. It will be difficult for him to be as efficient as he was a year ago though, which he’ll probably need to be. And if Portland stays in the second division, it’s hard to see Dame winning the ultimate award.

Kevin Durant (+1200)

Durant returns after sitting out last year following his Achilles tendon injury in the 2019 postseason. He does so under the white-hot glare in Brooklyn, as the entire basketball public waits to see if he and Kyrie Irving can immediately turn the Nets into a championship contender. So much for easing back in after an injury.

Even as he turns 32, Durant, the 2014 NBA MVP, certainly has the talent to get it done. His shooting ability at his height makes him as close to an unstoppable weapon as there is in the game. Irving’s presence will ensure that defenses don’t lock in on him.

The big problem with a Durant MVP scenario is that it seems likely that he’ll miss his share of games. Even if he responds well to playing again, Brooklyn is likely to be extra careful with him about back-to-backs and things like that. And that makes it hard to imagine him as an MVP over players who end up with ten or so more games played at the end of the year.

Kawhi Leonard (+1400)

Looking at the regular season, Leonard’s first year in LA was a clear, if not overwhelming, success. Even though his efficiency dropped just a shade from his year in Toronto, his counting stats rose, including a career-high in assists. Part of that was increased usage playing games early in the season while Paul George was out early last season.

Then the postseason, and the hideous come-from-ahead losses in the series against Denver, happened. After the championship in Toronto, Leonard’s brand was about as solid as any in the NBA. But his, and his team’s, performance against Denver have put a stain on that (as are recent reports about his interaction with the Clippers.)

Leonard will likely come out with a lot of fire to change that perception in his age-29 season. But an MVP still seems unlikely if he continues to sit out multiple games for load maintenance and injury prevention. He is a top-5 talent, and yet an MVP seems beyond his reach.

Nikola Jokic (+1600)

The Joker started the year out of shape and Denver seemed out of sorts even as they stayed in solid standing in the West. But after the hiatus, Jokic came back trim, toned and taking no prisoners. Triple doubles started to occur with more regularity and he performed at level he hadn’t reached previously in his career, which is saying something for how good he’s been.
But the real turning point came in the playoffs, when Jokic helped Denver to an unlikely run to the conference championship series, including an incredible upset over the Clippers. Granted, he got a lot of support from Jamal Murray, who played the best basketball of his career. But Jokic is the guy that makes the big difference with this franchise.

Now consider that he is only 25 years old. That makes him a candidate to improve, on a team that could indeed be a sleeper to win the West. At 16 to 1, Jokic could be one of the best futures plays you’ll find on the NBA board right now.

Ten Sleeper MVP Contenders

Joel Embiid (+2000)

New coach Doc Rivers will be tasked with somehow getting more out of Embiid, whose stats are always fine but the results seem to lack. Job one would be to get the big fella to stop drifting outside the arc so much and concentrate on dominating inside, which he clearly can do with his power and footwork. If Embiid sticks to what he does best, he could make a surprising surge.

Donovan Mitchell (+2500)

Mitchell was very close to helping his Jazz past the Nuggets in the first round a year ago. The lack of postseason exposure could be part of the reason he sits at 25 to 1. But the talent is there, if he can somehow keep his team from slipping in the ever-competitive West.

Donovan Mitchell

Jayson Tatum (+2500)

Tatum blossomed with more responsibility in his third year, as he and Jaylen Brown improved in tandem and put the Celtics among the best in the East again. The really interesting part is that Tatum is only going to be 22 this year. There is a lot of improvement that he can make, which means a surprising run to MVP status can’t be discounted.

Kyrie Irving (+3300)

Irving’s first year in Brooklyn was washed away by a host of injuries. But when he was on the floor, he was scintillating, even if the team didn’t do much. His biggest obstacle for the MVP is Durant’s status, since Irving would have to somehow outshine the perennial All-Star.

Devin Booker (+4000)

Based on only the bubble games last year, you could make an argument that Booker was an all-NBA talent. Maybe the addition of Chris Paul can help push his team, which also features fellow rising star DeAndre Ayton to surprising heights. That makes Booker a fun long shot to try.
Devin Booker

Ben Simmons (+6600)

If you’re going to make long shot bets on NBA MVP, you should do so with guys who have the talent. And Simmons, even with his inability to, you know, shoot the ball, has that talent. Should he have a season where he averages a triple double, which is within his range of outcomes, you’ll be sitting pretty at a massive 66 to 1.

Trae Young (+6600)

The Hawks brought in some help at the point guard position this year, which could mean more time off the ball for Young. That could mean more scoring and less assists, which is probably a wash in terms of MVP consideration. But if it means the Hawks win a lot more, that could be the ultimate factor in pushing Young up the MVP ladder.

Zion Williamson (+6600)

Williamson is only 20 years old, which would make him two years younger than Derrick Rose was when he was the youngest ever NBA MVP. But Zion already has the media attention wrapped up, which, let’s face it, goes a long way to players winning awards like this. It would take a lot, but this guy, if he can stay healthy, could be something else.

Jaylen Brown (+8000)

Brown’s biggest obstacle is that he seems just a step behind teammate Jayson Tatum in terms of his all-around game. But he isn’t that far from All-Star status, and the Celtics should definitely be one of the top teams in the East. Probably not going to happen, but you shouldn’t be afraid to take the over on all seasonal prop bets pertaining to Brown.
Jaylen Brown

Pascal Siakam (+10000)

Siakam will have to shake off the fact that he didn’t perform all that well in the playoffs, where he overshadowed by several of his teammates. But you have to keep in mind that he is only 26. More important than that, because he was such a late bloomer in terms of starting to play basketball late, the learning curve could spike all of a sudden.

The Best Value Bets for NBA 2020-21 MVP

  • LeBron James (+900)
  • James Harden (+1000)
  • Nikola Jokic (+1600)
  • Joel Embiid (+2000)
  • Jayson Tatum (+2500)
  • Kyrie Irving (+3300)
  • Ben Simmons (+6600)

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h …

View all posts by Jim Beviglia