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NBA MVP tracker: LeBron starting to take command in race [UPDATE]

We’re tracking the latest odds to win 2021 NBA MVP as we approach the All-Star Break this season.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Detroit Pistons on February 6, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020-21 NBA MVP race has been one of the more polarizing we’ve seen in a while. It could have something to do with the shortened season or all the postponements due to Covid-19. We knew that this season was going to feature more competitive conferences given the NBA isn’t as top-heavy anymore, but nobody really thought that we’d have this many worthy MVP candidates a week into February.

Throughout the season, we’ve been tracking the MVP odds to see how players are improving or hurting their stock. At the beginning of 2020-21, it was expected to be a two-man race between Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Right now, Doncic isn’t really on anyone’s MVP radar and the idea of Giannis three-peating isn’t really a thing right now (though it still isn’t out of the question). Nope, it’s LeBron James who has overtaken favorite to win MVP thanks widely to his teammate Anthony Davis.

Let’s take a look at updated MVP odds and how players are tracking:

Week 9 Update — LeBron went from +350 to +250 to +200 in a matter of a week or so in the MVP race. I went on a RotoWire Podcast with Nick Whalen and Alex Barutha last week to talk about some of these numbers and Nick had a good explanation for LeBron being favorite. It’s his “Lifetime achievement MVP” basically. I still think James will play plenty of seasons after this — maybe even winning multiple MVPs. With that said, this does feel a lot like James is getting MVP hype because of who he is.

The Lakers were on a seven-game winning streak before losing to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. That was mostly because the team lost Anthony Davis in the first half to a aggravation of his Achilles injury. If AD is sidelined longer than just a few games, this will only help LeBron’s chances of solidifying his MVP case. It will be LeBron carrying another team throughout the regular season. So long as he puts up around 25-9-9 on a nightly basis and continues to shoot the lights out from beyond the arc, it will be James’ MVP to lose.

Week 8 Update — So LeBron is always a funny case when he’s in the MVP conversation — which is basically every season. It’s not that LeBron isn’t ever deserving of the award. The issue is this seems a lot like a cop out from the oddsmakers and media. James is the easy choice. When in doubt, pick LeBron. You can essentially always make a case for LeBron as MVP. It’s easy. The Lakers are one of the best teams in the NBA and he’s the best player in the NBA. Anthony Davis has been banged up more than usual and the Lakers have been fine. That may be more of a testament to the Lakers’ depth than to James’ play.

I wonder if James starts to wear down a bit in the next month or so and starts to sit some games out. If AD comes back and starts to carry more of the load, James could just take a backseat for a bit and his odds would be hurt as a result. As the favorite, I understand why LeBron is there. I’m not jumping at the chance to bet on him as MVP right now. His odds should drop at some point and he’d still be among the favorites.

This is the lowest number we’ve seen on the two former favorites all season long. There’s more value in going with Giannis to three-peat as MVP than betting on Doncic to rebound and carry the Dallas Mavericks into the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks enter this week on a four-game winning streak and are still very much alive to win the East. If that becomes the case then it’ll be because the reigning two-time MVP. It isn’t like Antetokounmpo is having a miserable season either. He’s averaging 27.1 points, 11.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game with a 27.24 PER. The issue is Giannis has more help in the form of Jrue Holiday and that hurts his MVP case.

One player who isn’t getting enough MVP love is Kawhi Leonard. The Los Angeles Clippers have lost two games in a row entering this week after Paul George hurt his foot. The Clips are still in the hunt for first in the West and Leonard is having arguably his best NBA season so far. Kawhi is starting to get some more love in the MVP race after being down at +5000 a few weeks back. Of the players with a “long-ish” shot at winning the award, Leonard feels like the best investment.

Updated NBA MVP Odds 2021

Player Post-Harden Trade 2/8 Odds Current Odds Stock
Player Post-Harden Trade 2/8 Odds Current Odds Stock
Luka Doncic, DAL +400 +550 +1000 Down
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL +450 +1200 +1200 --
Stephen Curry, GSW +1000 +1400 +1200 Up
Anthony Davis, LAL +1600 +4000 +15000 Down
LeBron James, LAL +1000 +350 +200 Up
Kevin Durant, BKN +800 +600 +1200 Down
Damian Lillard, POR +2000 +2500 +2500 --
Jayson Tatum, BOS +2000 +8000 +10000 Down
James Harden, HOU +4000 +5000 +5000 --
Nikola Jokic, DEN +1200 +550 +450 Up
Kawhi Leonard, LAC +4000 +4000 +4000 --
Domantas Sabonis, IND +4000 +10000 +15000 Down
Devin Booker, PHX +6000 +10000 +15000 Down
Joel Embiid, PHI +1000 +550 +400 Up
Jimmy Butler, MIA +10000 +25000 +25000 --
Paul George, LAC +10000 +8000 +8000 --
Kyrie Irving, BKN +10000 +15000 +15000 --
Donovan Mitchell, UTA +10000 +10000 +6600 Up

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