5 NBA MVP longshots worth a gamble
BetAmerica's NBA MVP oddsboard is a who's who of the league's elite. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is there, as are previous recipients Stephen Curry and LeBron James. You can even find Kawhi Leonard, whose two NBA Finals MVPs make him a compelling choice as well.
Odds to win the 2020 NBA MVP Award
We wouldn't blame you for putting a few dollars down on any of them, but if you want some real bang for your buck, you need to venture a little farther down the list, where the real value lives.
Nikola Jokic (+1100)No player was more critical to his team's success last season than Nikola Jokic, who lifted the Nuggets to 54 wins and the second seed in the Western Conference on the strength of his offensive wizardry. The Joker led Denver in points, rebounds, assists, steals and player efficiency rating and tossed in 12 triple-doubles just for good measure.
The next step in Jokic's evolution needs to be on the defensive end, where his apathy and lack of mobility makes him a major liability. Teams have feasted on the Serbian big man in pick-and-roll situations and have continually taken advantage of his inability to switch to smaller, quicker players. If Jokic can improve that element of his game, his first MVP award will be well within his enormous grasp.
Kyrie Irving (+3000)Kyrie Irving was at the center of so many petty arguments and public meltdowns last season that it became easy to forget the 27-year-old point guard is still one of the NBA's most talented players. When he's locked in, as he was during his final season in Cleveland, Irving is a world-class ball handler who can blow by anyone in the league and finish with a flourish at the rim. If that version of Irving shows up this season in Brooklyn, he could begin hearing MVP chants again.
Luka Doncic (+5000)Just how good was Luka Doncic last season? The Slovenian teen dashed off eight triple-doubles and was one of just four players in the league to average at least 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game. The raw numbers are impressive, of course, but it's the way that Doncic achieves them that is truly inspiring. The Mavs guard isn't especially fast or bouncy, but he overcomes his athletic shortcomings by making everyone else play at his tempo and by identifying angles that only he can see. It will be fascinating to watch his special brand of basketball genius as he enters his sophomore season.
Donovan Mitchell (+8000)It isn't uncommon for players to make significant strides after spending the summer playing for the U.S. National Team. It happened to Dwyane Wade in 2008-09 following the 2008 Olympics. It happened to Steph Curry in 2010-11 following the 2010 World Cup, and we're predicting it will happen to Donovan Mitchell in 2019-20. The high-flying shooting guard averaged 28.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game during the final month of the season and should see considerably more daylight this year thanks to the additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, both of whom will space the court and allow Mitchell to attack the rim with impunity. Look out below!
Devin Booker (+10000)Devin Booker made the leap from star to superstar last season by elevating his scoring average to 26.6 points per game. And he did it while sharing a backcourt with the likes of Isaiah Canaan and De'Anthony Melton, a pair of players who aren't even household names in their own households. Just imagine how much more lethal Booker will be this year when he's catching pinpoint passes from Ricky Rubio, a throwback point guard who excels at putting his teammates in the perfect position to succeed. If they click, as we expect, Booker will lead the NBA in scoring and will receive his fair share of MVP consideration.