The two-time reigning MVP in the NBA is Steph Curry. However, when it comes to betting odds it's Russell Westbrook that is considered the favorite to win the coveted individual award this upcoming season. Bet365 make Westbrook their market favorite to win the MVP, pricing him at 29/10. Individual awards can be a tricky thing in a team sport. Firstly, the notion of the MVP reflecting on only one player could be debated. I think there is a relationship between an individual's success on a team and the effectiveness of his teammates.
For instance, one big reason why Curry won two MVP awards may be that teams were not able to 'cheat' by over-defending him. Such a move would simply have left other players open, like Draymond Green. Clearly a player, even one appearing to have a great individual season, can benefit a lot from the play of his teammates around him. In this way an MVP award can reflect on every player on a team, at least to a certain extent.
But in some cases not having good players around you might help you win the award too. I think that may be relevant to Westbrook in the upcoming season. Long-time teammate Kevin Durant moved to Oakland in the offseason in a move that fans and pundits alike aren't all happy about.
What that could create in Oklahoma City, the location that Durant left, is a situation where Westbrook is overly relied on for offense. That reliance can certainly help his personal stats as he will likely take a ton of shots this season. But the double-edged sword has to do with the former point I made: Westbrook will probably face a lot more defensive pressure as teams won't have to worry about someone of Durant's calibre as a sidekick. How the guard will handle having less room to work with isn't clear, however I don't see him as the proper outright MVP favorite.
Other MVP candidates besides Westbrook
Here's a look at the other favorites in the market (all odds from bet365):
- Steph Curry 35/10
- LeBron James 15/4
- Kevin Durant 9/1
- Kawhi Leonard 14/1
MVP prediction for the 2016/17 season
I see the Golden State Warriors having a great season again in the upcoming campaign. However, with so many offensive weapons I wonder if the offense will great spread around in Oakland. Accordingly, perhaps no one player shines so bright so as to win the MVP award.
With LeBron James in Cleveland, there is a question of aging. The King will turn 32-years-old before the new year and that's a little out of a basketball player's prime. James will still be able to drive to the hoop for points and he's incredibly dangerous in chaotic situations, like in fast-break scenarios and loose-ball plays. However, we saw his jump shot fade last season and it might get worse going forward.
Kawhi Leonard is an interesting player to watch. With Tim Duncan retired, the San Antonio Spurs are now Leonard's team. He finished 2nd in MVP voting last season and he is still in his athletic prime. So long as he plays in at least 70 games, he is my predicted winner for the MVP award this upcoming season. #RussellWestbrook #LebronJames #KawhiLeonard