As Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to win his third straight NBA MVP award, he’ll have to fend off the league’s next great superstar. Luka Doncic heads into the 2020-21 season as the prohibitive favorite in the MVP race.

Doncic leads all players with +410 betting odds to become the 2021 MVP, via FanDuel Sportsbook. The Dallas Mavericks’ star is just ahead of Antetokounmpo (+480), who is both the reigning MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year.

The odds suggest Doncic and Antetokounmpo make up the top tier of MVP contenders, considering no other player even has +800 MVP odds. LeBron James has been the NBA’s best player for at least a decade, but Doncic and Antetokounmpo have the best chance of eventually taking his place.

Stephen Curry (+850) is tied for the third-best odds, having won the award in both 2015 and 2016. The Golden State Warriors’ star is the only unanimous MVP in history.

Anthony Davis (+850) could take another step forward this season after finishing sixth in the 2020 voting and winning his first championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis was the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, and he could be asked to carry a heavier load with James entering his 18th season.

James (+1500) was second in the 2020 MVP voting before winning his fourth NBA Finals MVP award. The expectation is that the Lakers will be careful with James' minutes as the team prepares to defend its championship.

James Harden (+1000) is a perennial MVP candidate with five top-three finishes over the last six years. Harden’s trade demand complicates things, and his mounting playoff failures might work against him when it comes time to vote.

Harden’s scoring average has increased to near-historic levels in each of the last two seasons, but his one MVP season came in 2018 when the Houston Rockets had the NBA’s best record. Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to more victories than any team in both 2019 and 2020, continuing a trend of the MVP coming from a top regular-season team.

Twenty of the last 21 MVPs have played for either the No. 1 seed or the No. 2 seed in their respective conference. Russell Westbrook was the exception in 2017, doing so as the first player in 45 years to average a triple-double for an entire season.

With that in mind, here are the three best 2021 MVP bets in terms of value.

Kevin Durant (+1300)

It’s easy to forget just how good Durant is at basketball since he hasn’t played a meaningful game in 18 months. Before tearing his Achilles, Durant won two straight NBA Finals MVP awards, was the league’s second-best player for a decade and on his way to becoming a top-10 all-time player.

Durant’s length and elite shooting ability make him better equipped than anyone to remain great after such a devastating injury. The forward is sixth in history with 27.0 points per game while shooting 38.1% from three-point range. If Durant and Kyrie Irving can stay healthy, the Brooklyn Nets are absolutely a contender in the East. In each of the last seven years during which Durant has played the majority of the season, Durant's teams have earned a top-two seed.

Nikola Jokic (+3600)

Fresh off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are ready to be even better in 2021. The 25-year-old has established himself as a top-10 player over the last two seasons, averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists per game. Jokic fills up the stat sheet the way big men like Anthony Davis and Joel Embiid can’t because of his unique passing ability.

Jamal Murray became a true superstar in the bubble, and Michael Porter Jr. might be a star in the making. With so much talent around him, Jokic has a chance to be the best player on the best team in the regular season, the most successful recipe to winning the MVP. Denver was the No. 2 seed in 2019 and the No. 3 seed in 2020, and this Nuggets’ team is better than both of those clubs.

Ben Simmons (+10000)

If you’re looking for a true long shot, Simmons is the best option at 100/1. The No.1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons has a higher ceiling than almost any player in the league. The 24-year-old made his first All-NBA team in 2020 and was a First-Team All-Defense selection. Simmons is another triple-double threat with career averages of 17.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists in three NBA seasons. If he can develop any kind of an outside shot, Simmons has all the tools to be an MVP contender.

Even without a 3-point shot, Simmons might finally be surrounded by a roster that best serves his skill set. The addition of shooters Seth Curry and Danny Green should open the floor and allow both Simmons and Embiid to thrive. The Philadelphia 76ers might be the favorites in the East if those two stars play to their potential.

Luka Doncic Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles the ball against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on January 11, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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