As the 2020-2021 NBA playoffs really start to get fired up, we renew our thoughts on the NBA season awards. Who will win the regular-season MVP? Who will be crowned Rookie of the Year? Who will be this year’s Sixth Man? And who will be the Most Improved Player?
Let’s look at the odds offered by sportsbooks at Virginia sports betting sites and compare them against the pundits and our own opinions.
Most Valuable Player Award
This award went to Nikola Jokic. The three-time All-Star for the Denver Nuggets had a stellar year. So stellar that if you look at how the NBA odds for MVP winner progressed throughout the year, you’d find Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top of the leader boards with odds of +600 at the beginning of the season, followed by LeBron James and Anthony Davis at +700.
When you look at articles from earlier in the year, all the so-called experts picked LeBron, Steph Curry, AD, Kevin Durant, and some selected Doncic. In short, zero imagination is present in the minds of the mainstream media talking heads, all of them choosing the usual suspects.
Tracking the odds, we saw Doncic and Durant climb, while James Harden fell due to his lack of desire to play in Houston and uncertainty regarding his future there or where he would land. By January, we saw Kevin Durant surpass Giannis and LeBron climb up the boards to +500. Meanwhile, Jokic quietly climbed the odds board, getting shorter and shorter. After his February 1st breakout performance in Utah, a game that ended Utah’s 11-game streak, Nikola Jokic crushed the Jazz with 47 points on the day. This was only a few days after he put up 46 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the big difference being that the Jazz are one of the better defensive teams in the league.
But two other players continued to play exceptionally well with their odds getting shorter and shorter: Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid. But, it isn’t likely to matter much because Nikola Jokic has played so well that even though the top three most likely to win the NBA MVP this year are Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Steph Curry, Jokic’s odds are closed at -10,000 putting the other top-two favorites at +2000 and +25000.
Let’s put that number into perspective for a moment. Nikola Jokic has played so well this season and was so heavily favored that you had to risk $10,000.00 and likely to have overpaid for the chance to win $100.00. Conversely, a $100.00 bet on Steph Curry would win you $2500.00 if he had won—but he didn’t. The regular season MVP was undoubtedly going to be handed to the six-year veteran playing in Colorado, and on January 8th, we learned that he won the vote in a landslide.
Rookie of the Year | TBD
For the young studs coming up in the league, we are down to three finalists:
- LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets
- Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves
- Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings
Although I don’t think LaMelo Ball was that much better than Anthony Edwards, I figured that he would end up the odds leader because of the hype surrounding his family name. As we close in on the final days, his odds have shortened to an unprofitable -2500. Anthony Edwards is sitting at +1000, and Tyrese Haliburton has ROTY odds of +10000.
LaMelo Ball will be our 2021 ROTY.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year | Rudy Gobert
- Rudy Gobert
- Ben Simmons
- Draymond Green
In the moments before the announcement, it looked like Rudy Gobert would walk away with the title of the best defensive player in 2020-2021. His odds were sitting at -3335. Ben Simmons had odds of +1300 (13/1), and Draymond Green was at 80/1 or +8000.
NBA Sixth Man | Jordan Clarkson
- Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
- Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
- Derrick Rose, New York Knicks
It was nice to see Derrick Rose back in the limelight as one of the three finalists for NBA Sixth man. But, man, if that Utah team isn’t solid this year. Not only are they still pushing hard in the playoffs, but they also had two of the top three finalists for Sixth man. This one was much closer, with Jordan Clarkson closing the odds at -182 and his teammate coming in around +145 right before the decision was made. The longshot here was Rose at +10,000. But hey, at least the Knicks got some love with their coach, Tom Thibodeau winning Coach of the Year.