Last season Stephen Curry averaged 23.8 points, 7.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, leading Golden State to their first championship since 1975 and earning the Most Valuable Player award in the process. What’s interesting is that prior to the start of the season, Curry actually saw his MVP odds drop from +2500 to +4000 during the pre-season, making him the most improbable winner in recent history (although Derrick Rose was +2500 before winning in 2010-11).
The table below displays the past nine MVP winners along with their odds to win the award prior to the season. (Historical odds via SportsOddsHistory.com)
|2014-15||Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors||+4000|
|2013-14||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||+300|
|2012-13||LeBron James||Miami Heat||+160|
|2011-12||LeBron James||Miami Heat||+250|
|2010-11||Derrick Rose||Chicago Bulls||+2500|
|2009-10||LeBron James||Cleveland Cavaliers||+275|
|2008-09||LeBron James||Cleveland Cavaliers||+250|
|2007-08||Kobe Bryant||Los Angeles Lakers||+500|
|2006-07||Dirk Nowitzki||Dallas Mavericks||+700|
The Most Valuable Player seems to be a fairly predictable award, with the front runners consistently taking home this coveted prize. Six of the past eight winners opened the season listed at +700 or lower, which bodes well for LeBron James, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
The table below compares the 2015-16 NBA MVP odds at 5Dimes, BetOnline and Bovada throughout the season.
|Player||Team||Bovada (2/2)||BetOnline (11/27)||5Dimes (10/27)||5Dimes (7/29)|
When these odds were first posted back in June, 5Dimes only listed 14 candidates. Nearly three months later, the list was updated to include more than 50 new players including more than a few questionable choices. The most glaring issue? Reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and veteran journeyman David Lee are both listed at 500/1 to win this award. Neither player is likely to win, but at least there is a plausible situation in which Wiggins makes substantial improvements.
While this list includes most of the usual suspects, it also includes two players coming back from season ending injuries — Kobe Bryant and Paul George. The 36-year old Bryant underwent season-ending surgery after tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder back in January, while the 25-year old George suffered a gruesome injury to his right leg during a scrimmage for the US national team.
Between his age, injury-history and talent depleted roster, Kobe Bryant’s days as an MVP candidate appear to be at an end, but it will be interesting to see how well Paul George rebounds. George is still young and averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game before his injury. It’s tough to recommend betting on a player who suffered such a brutal injury, but the Eastern Conference is extremely weak and the Pacers could surprise people.
Oddsmakers appear to agree with this sentiment, as Bryant dropped from +5000 to +17500 since this article was originally published while George improved slightly from +6600 to +6400.
It may be boring, but LeBron James (+300) is probably one of the best MVP value. 5Dimes currently lists the Cleveland Cavaliers as -180 favorites to win the Eastern Conference, making LeBron’s path to another finals appearance look like an inevitability. It’s also interesting to see that LeBron’s MVP odds ranged from +160 to -110 before last season, indicating that oddsmakers may have overreacted to Curry’s win last year.
It’s also interesting to see that even though Houston has made significant improvements this offseason, James Harden’s MVP odds have dropped from +400 to +800. At that price (and with Khloe Kardashian out of the picture), there may be value on last season’s second leading scorer.
One month into the season and Stephen Curry looks poised to repeat as the MVP winner. The undefeated Warriors have been must-watch television and Curry has led the way with an incredible 32.1 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game. This astounding performance has moved Curry’s MVP odds from +650 to -150.
The biggest early disappointment has been Pelicans F/C Anthony Davis. The fourth year player big man has looked fantastic when healthy, but he has already missed three games for a 4-11 team. This could be an ideal time to buy low, but Davis’ individual performance will mean nothing if his team can’t turn things around.
Paul George, who was my preseason MVP sleeper, has been another tremendous success story. After missing almost all of last season due to injury, George has bounced back with 25.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. These numbers would all be career highs, and have caused George’s MVP odds to improve from +6400 to +2000.
It’s Stephen Curry’s world and we’re all just living in it. The 27-year old guard is averaging 29.4 points per game, 6.5 assists per game and 5.2 rebounds per game, while boasting a league-high PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 31.96. He’s also looking to join the elusive 50-40-90 club for the first time in his career. In league history, only six players have ever shot 50% from the field, 40% from downtown and 90% from the free throw line: Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Mark Price, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.
In fact, just under one month ago 5Dimes was actually offering Curry against the field:
Who will win the NBA MVP Award?
Stephen Curry -400
Implied Probability: 77.27%
— Sports Insights (@SportsInsights) January 5, 2016
The Warriors currently boast a 44-4 record and may challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the greatest season in NBA history. As long as Curry stays healthy, he looks like a shoe-in for his second consecutive MVP award.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.