A quarter of the way into the NBA season – and it’s clear that some MVP candidates are more valuable than others. So where should your money go?
The truth is that it’s wide open at this point with injuries for a handful of hopefuls, and indifferent results for others. And an outside bet worth a look.
LeBron James (Cleveland) 2.25
Four-times a past winner, why not five times a charm? Well, King James numbers are down in almost every category, except assists, and the Cavs have taken time to get rolling. But there’s been some definite slippage so far in LeBron’s game, plus uncharacteristic injury absences. Unless there’s a turnaround, he might struggle to justify the votes.
Stephen Curry (Golden State) 5.00
Racing up the charts with odds shortening by the day is the MVP of the season so far. Curry’s been a scoring machine with 23 points per game but also staking a real claim as the league’s best point guard. If the Warriors retain their grip on the best record, he’s got a real shot.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans) 6.00
Davis has probably cemented his place as the NBA’s third-best player. The bad news? He’s on the Pelicans, who have a nice foundation but are still in the building process. There’s been no time in recent history where the MVP has nestled on a mediocre squad. Although he’s worth a bet tonight against Cleveland to notch over 22.5 points.
James Harden (Houston) 9.00
He can score, yes. He can’t defend, well at least not much. Harden could be a lot better with a little effort but the Rockets haven’t lifted off in quite the way many expected. And his beard is still his calling card despite his offensive gifts.
Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) 10.00
Two strikes against Durant: he’s already missed 15 games. And traditionally, it’s hard to win back-to-back MVPs, unless that comes with championships. KD’s on a slow return to his past form. There simply won’t be a repeat.
Best of the Rest…
Blake Griffin (LA Clippers) 11.00 / Chris Paul (LA Clippers) 21.00
I had these pair as pre-season picks and although the Clippers go into tonight’s trip to Washington with a 16-5 record, there’s still doubts that they can go all the way. However it’s clear if they were to make a run at the West’s best mark, it would come down to Paul – and he would get plenty of votes from the MVP electorate.
Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City) 67.00
Here’s the ultimate wild card. Westbrook has missed a little time, but not as much as Durant. And he’s out-shining his Thunder team-mate as we saw in Thursday’s tour de force against the Cavaliers. If OKC accelerate and get even close to the top of the West following their horror start, the ball of energy known as Russell could be a bargain pick to top the polls.
Bet of the Day: From tonight’s games, have a look at Portland on the handicap of -2.5 against Chicago with the Blazers winning seven of their last eight on the road.