In 2019-20, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo took home his second consecutive MVP award, handily defeating LeBron James and James Harden. Yet, when the 2020-’21 campaign began, Giannis was actually second in the opening 2021 NBA MVP odds.
Antetokounmpo and James were the only two players to receive first place votes, and the Greek Freak won by over 200 points.
Who is the 2021 NBA MVP favorite?
Despite that, rising Dallas Mavericks wunderkind Luka Doncic led the pack as the 2021 favorite to begin the season, standing at +325 to take the title of NBA MVP.
Doncic closed last season on a tear, hitting a buzzer-beater for the ages in the NBA Bubble and giving the Los Angeles Clippers a run for their money in the first round of the playoffs.
It wasn’t a shock to see Doncic so high on the NBA MVP odds board. He finished 4th in MVP voting last year, higher than players like Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.
A quarter of the way through the season, a new front-runner has replaced Doncic: LeBron James.
Because of Doncic and the Mavericks slump, James has fought his way to the top of the leaderboard in his 18th year in the league.
Just weeks before the All-Star break, LeBron has opened up his biggest lead of the season, currently standing at +100.
Trailing behind LeBron and rounding out the top three are Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic, two unicorns who have redefined the center position.
Wings and center positions dominate the top 15 spots, and only two point guards (Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard) occupy the leading positions.
Below are the current 2021 NBA MVP Odds for the 25 front-runners, updated weekly.
2021 NBA MVP Odds
Below is a list of major events that shifted betting lines for the 2021 NBA Regular Season MVP, updated weekly.
[December 2] Russell Westbrook For John Wall Trade: The Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards swap All-Star point guards. Because James Harden is expected to do more of the heavy lifting in Houston, his MVP odds drop from +1,800 to +1,400. Because Russell Westbrook is expected to have more creative freedom in Washington, his MVP odds drop from +5,000 to +3,300.
[November 23] Klay Thompson Confirmed Out: An MRI confirms that Klay Thompson has a torn right Achilles tendon. Because Stephen Curry’s workload is expected to increase with Thompson out, his MVP odds drop from +1,000 to +800.
[November 16] Chris Paul Trade: The Oklahoma City Thunder send Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns to form a dynamic backcourt with Devin Booker. Because Booker is expected to defer some playmaking possessions to Paul, his MVP odds increase from +2,500 to +2,800.
Analyzing 2021 MVP Odds
The first step in selecting which player to bet on is to analyze if the payoff is worth the risk.
If you decide that Doncic (+450) has the best chance to take home the hardware, then you can bet $100 on him to win $450.
Even if you think Doncic has a better chance to win the award than any other player, it could still be worth it to bet on a different star for the higher payout.
You may predict it is more likely for Doncic to win the award than LeBron James, but James’ payout is significantly higher than Doncic’s.
While $100 pays off $450 if the Slovenian star wins his first MVP, $100 would pay off $800 if LeBron can take home his fifth MVP trophy.
Weigh your odds and select which player gives you most bang for your buck.