With LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach this fall, the 2010-11 MVP race becomes wide open. The NBA pick handicappers at Maddux Sports have broken down and previewed the prop bet. Will King James win the award for the third consecutive season, or will someone else be taking home the trophy?
Here are the top contenders, all NBA MVP odds according to Pinnacle:
Kevin Durant (+241) – With James teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, his statistics will take a hit meaning that this year’s MVP is Durant’s for the taking. In just his third year in the league, Durant led the league in scoring by averaging 30.1 points, while also pulling down 7.8 rebounds over the 2009-10 campaign. Durant has the potential to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three point arc, and 90 percent from the free throw line, something that only five other players in history have accomplished. If Durant can bring up his assist average from 2.8 last season, then this award is his to lose.
Kobe Bryant (+351) – Coming off a second consecutive Finals MVP award, it is no surprise that Bryant is one of the favorites to be next season’s MVP. Bryant averages of 27.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists last season are actually not too far off from the numbers he put up when he won the award three years ago (28.3, 6.3, and 5.4). Bryant has also been a member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team for five consecutive years. But Bryant has now played in over 1,000 regular season games and recently had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a bit of a drop-off this year.
LeBron James (+497)– If LeBron chose any team other than the Heat, he would be the no doubt favorite to take the award and become the first player since Larry Bird to win the MVP in three consecutive years. Now with teammates that require more touches, it is expected for James’ scoring opportunities to decrease. But who knows? With teammates that can also score with ease, Lebron’s assist numbers could increase dramatically. It isn’t out of the question that James could average a double-double or even a triple-double for years to come. And if the Heat manage to win 65+ games, James could win the MVP award simply for being the best player on the best team.
Dwight Howard (+803) – It’s no secret that Superman dominates the lane, averaging 13.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks last season. But for Howard to be seriously considered for MVP, the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year will need to improve his offense. If Chris Paul ends up getting traded to the Magic (and that’s a BIG if), Howard would easily average four to six points more a game and immediately become a serious candidate to take home the hardware. Remember those alleys-oops Paul used to toss up for Tyson Chandler? Imagine what he could do with Howard. If the trade doesn’t happen though, expect Howard to be Top 5 on the ballot, but not someone to contend for the title. It seems he is still a year or two away from being create on his own offensively.
Dwayne Wade (+969) – Wade has never won the MVP award, and now with James and Bosh taking away some of his scoring opportunities, it’s difficult to imagine him winning it this season. Not to mention that Wade has also never played a full season, so don’t be surprised if he winds up with an injury that sidelines him for a few weeks. Still, Wade is one of the league’s best all-around players, averaging 26.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.1 blocks last year. At almost 10 to 1 NBA betting odds, Wade offers some good value.
Carmelo Anthony (+1224) – Anthony is one of the game’s best scorers, averaging 28.2 points last season and 24.7 points for his career. But Anthony’s rebound and assist averages have decreased each of the past two seasons and he hasn’t been able to play a full season since his rookie year. That being said, Anthony is in the final year of his contract and will be out to prove that he is worth max contract money. If Anthony can stay healthy, rebound, and still score like he did last season, he could be a sleeper pick for MVP.
Field (+1326) – Although the field has some quality players, it is difficult to imagine anyone other than the above six players winning the 2010-11 MVP. Some notables include: Dirk Nowitzki (+1682), Chris Paul (+1732), Derrick Rose (1987), and Steve Nash (4076). Nowitzki and Nash are a few years past putting up MVP numbers while Rose is probably still a year or two away. Paul (+1732) has the best shot of anyone in the field, especially if he gets traded out of New Orleans.