If you pay much attention to the NBA MVP conversation, then you have probably heard all you care to hear about Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak was a runaway winner for the award last year and has been even better this season.
So, heading into last weekend, the general perception has been that he is going to run away with it again. But then the one thing that can damage his candidacy happened. Well, two things—he got injured, and Lebron James had a great weekend.
Several players are having solid years, but the only person many believe had a remote chance of knocking Antetokounmpo off his MVP pedestal is LeBron James. But the odds at Caesars.com do not make it look like he has much of a shot.
Current NBA MVP Odds:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo -2000
- Lebron James +700
- Luka Doncic, James Harden +2000
- Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard +7500
- Kawhi Leonard +20000
- Nikola Jokic +25000
- Field +50000
- Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid, Karl Anthony Towns +250000
- Paul George +100000
But with Antetokounmpo going down in Friday’s game against the Lakers with a knee injury and now expected to miss time, the door is open for someone else to walk through. Other than James, the only two guys that have a shot are Luka Doncic and James Harden.
However, with the Rockets riding a four-game losing streak right now, it is hard to make a good case for Harden. As for Doncic, with the Mavericks ranked seventh in the Western Conference, another candidate off a higher-ranked team is more likely to win.
If it isn’t going to be Antetokounmpo, it will be James. With Antetokounmpo out over the weekend, the voters got a chance to focus on James, who gave them plenty to think about.
Voters like guys who lead winning teams, and James is leading one of the best in the league. The Lakers are 49-13, are sitting in the No. 1-seed in the Western Conference and have a comfortable lead on the No.2-seeded Clippers (6.5 games).
They also like a guy who performs on a big stage against one of the better teams in the league. James did that with 37 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists against Antetokounmpo’s Bucks Friday night. Following that up with 29 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists against the Clippers Sunday didn’t hurt either.
Okay, so he had a great weekend, but does James have a chance of overtaking Antetokounmpo?
James has had a great year, but so far, all he deserves is second place in the voting. However, if Antetokounmpo was to miss more than the couple games he is expected to miss, the door could remain open for James.
He’ll have to continue performing at a high level for the rest of the season, but some sportsbooks must think he has a shot. PointsBet.com has adjusted their odds but still has Antetokounmpo in front, -416 to +300 for James. FoxBet.com also has James at +300 but has Antetokounmpo at -500.
So, if you think the Bucks may rest Antetokounmpo a lot down the stretch or his knee will keep him out more than a game or two, it may be time to take James to win at Caesars (before they adjust their odds).