The first half of a very topsy-turvy NBA season is officially in the books, pumping the brakes on what's shaping up to be a very intriguing race for NBA MVP betting.
Since the December 22 tip-off, we've seen some of the NBA's perennial MVP contenders showing out, with some young superstars adding their names to the mix, and a few former winners proving they've still got it.
As we prepare for the season's second half, let's take a pit stop to check in on the 2020-21 NBA MVP odds:
Favorite to win the NBA MVP award
Four-time regular-season MVP LeBron James has seen his name atop the MVP odds for most of this season. James (+225) has maintained his usual, unmatched consistency despite a lightning-quick turnaround from the Finals in the bubble to the start of the new season. James has the Lakers right in the mix near the top of the Western Conference, but a recent 3-7 skid with Anthony Davis sidelined hasn't helped his case.
But LeBron now has some company: 76ers center Joel Embiid (also +225) has been an utter force this season. Philadelphia's big man has finally been optimized on offense, completely dominating in the post with little resistance. Philly sits atop the Eastern Conference heading into the break, largely thanks to Embiid's career year (30.2 ppg/11.6 rpg on sublimely efficient 52/41/85 shooting splits). As the season progresses, it's looking more and more like the MVP will come down to James and Embiid.
Third on the odds board is Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, at +450. Jokic has been very arguably the NBA's single best statistical player this season, but Denver's lack of traction in the West has hurt his case. If the Nuggets are able to regroup and mount a run in the second half, his odds should rise accordingly.
Here is a full update of the top 2020-21 NBA MVP odds contenders:
Odds to win 2020-21 NBA MVP award
|Player||Odds to win NBA MVP (as of March 5)|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Understanding NBA MVP odds
Most sportsbooks will display odds in the American format as listed above. Antetokounmpo was a huge favorite last season, so his odds were listed with a minus (-) sign ahead of the number.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo -400
The (-) meant that Giannis was an odds-on favorite, and a bettor needed to wager $400 to win $100. Other contenders in the MVP race had plus (+) odds to win.
- Luke Doncic +650
Here, a bettor stood to profit $650 for every $100 wagered.
If American odds aren't your thing, simply use a tool like our odds converter to switch the odds to decimal or fractional format. Most online sportsbooks also give you the option to change the odds format that you see.
NBA MVP betting trends
Here are some trends you may want to consider before placing a bet on the NBA MVP:
- Repeat winners are quite common. Twelve different players have won the award two (or more) years in a row.
- The MVP usually comes from an elite team. Since 1985, only twice has the MVP come from a team that didn't finish first or second in its conference.
- The award is usually given to a player with a few years of service time. A rookie hasn't won MVP since Wes Unseld in 1969 and only four MVPs have been younger than 23 years old.
- The MVP award has historically been dominated by centers. However, a center hasn't won the award since Shaquille O'Neal in the 1999-00 season. MVP awards by position:
- Point guard: 11
- Shooting guard: 8
- Small forward: 9
- Power forward: 10
- Center: 26
NBA MVP history
A quick look at recent NBA MVPs and the position they played.
|2019-20||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Power Forward||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2018-19||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Power Forward||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2017-18||James Harden||Shooting Guard||Houston Rockets|
|2016-17||Russell Westbrook||Point Guard||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2015-16||Stephen Curry||Point Guard||Golden State Warriors|
|2014-15||Stephen Curry||Point Guard||Golden State Warriors|
|2013-14||Kevin Durant||Small Forward||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2012-13||LeBron James||Small Forward||Miami Heat|
|2011-12||LeBron James||Small Forward||Miami Heat|
|2010-11||Derrick Rose||Point Guard||Chicago Bulls|
|2009-10||LeBron James||Small Forward||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2008-09||LeBron James||Small Forward||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2007-08||Kobe Bryant||Shooting Guard||Los Angeles Lakers|
|2006-07||Dirk Nowitzki||Power Forward||Dallas Mavericks|
|2005-06||Steve Nash||Point Guard||Phoenix Suns|
|2004-05||Steve Nash||Point Guard||Phoenix Suns|
|2003-04||Kevin Garnett||Power Forward||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2002-03||Tim Duncan||Power Forward||San Antonio Spurs|
|2001-02||Tim Duncan||Power Forward||San Antonio Spurs|
|2000-01||Allen Iverson||Point Guard||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1999-00||Shaquille O'Neal||Center||Los Angeles Lakers|
Where can I bet on NBA MVP odds?
Most online sportsbooks will offer NBA futures odds on who will win the MVP for the next season. Check out our top online sportsbooks listings for the most trusted books in your area.