As the second half of the NBA season resumes this week, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry remains the odds-on favorite to win this year’s coveted MVP award. However, a number of the league’s highest profile players could surge past the 26-year-old as teams jostle for postseason position over the next few months.
Curry is a 1/2 favorite, according to Bovada.lv, to claim the first MVP trophy of his career. Averaging 23.6 points, 7.9 assists and a league-leading 2.16 steals per game, Curry would be the third player in the last five seasons to win the trophy other than Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James.
James’ chances of wrapping up the fifth MVP of his career are currently 9/2, only slightly behind Houston Rockets star guard and the NBA’s leading scorer James Harden at 7/2.
New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is next up at 12/1, followed by reigning MVP and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant at 14/1. Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is at 18/1, Durant’s teammate and point guard Russell Westbrook sits at 20/1, and Washington Wizards point guard and leading-NBA assist man John Wall is the longshot in the field at 50/1.
The award is typically doled out to the best player on the team with the best overall record at the conclusion of the regular season, which explains Curry’s status as the favorite.
Curry’s points, assists and three-point shooting numbers are down compared to last year’s averages, but the Warriors have raced to a 42-9 record before the All-Star break in the loaded Western Conference, at one point winning 16 straight between November and December under Curry’s leadership.
James began the season as the prohibitive favorite after rejoining the Cavs following a four-year run with the Miami Heat. The 30-year-old is clearly the best all-around player in the league with 25.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, but James failed to mesh with teammates Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving at the start of the season and the Cavs didn’t put together a convincing run of games until mid-January when they started a 12-game winning streak.
Should the Warriors slip down the West standings or Curry sustain an injury that forces him to miss a significant amount of time, James could move ahead of both Curry and Harden if the Cavs ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Harden’s candidacy has gained traction over the last month after teammate and center Dwight Howard went down with a knee injury. Howard’s missed the Rockets last nine games, and 21 altogether this season, forcing Harden to lead the Rockets offense almost singlehandedly.
Averaging career-highs in both points per game (27.4) and field goal attempts (18.3), Harden scorched opposing defenses for 30.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in the last six games as Houston maintains the No. 4 seed in the West.
Though he missed the last two games heading into the All-Star break, Davis is still on pace to record the highest player efficiency rating in league history. At a PER of 31.86, Davis could best Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time mark of 31.82 set in the 1962-63 season.
In only his third season, Davis has the Pelicans a slim 1.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the West with an astounding stat line of 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
Surprisingly, odds makers have Durant ahead of Westbrook despite the former playing seven fewer games due to several injuries. Durant still leads the Thunder with 25.9 points, but Westbrook is hot off his stellar All-Star MVP run and in contention with Curry as the best point guard in the league.
MVP Odds via Bovada.lv
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 1/ 2
James Harden, Houston Rockets, 7/2
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, 9/2
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, 12/1
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, 14/1
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, 18/1
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, 20/1
John Wall, Washington Wizards, 50/1