The NBA’s regular season schedule continue to draw to a close in anticipation of this year’s quest to win a world title. Eight teams in each conference will get a chance to compete in this year’s playoffs, but everyone knows that this race to a world title comes down to the Golden State Warrior against the field.
The betting odds that the Warriors go on to win their fourth NBA title in five seasons are set at -200. The team with the next best odds on the board is the Milwaukee Bucks at +800 betting odds followed by the Houston Rockets as +1000 third-favorites. Interestingly enough, each of those two contenders has a player in the running for league MVP.
The main man for the Bucks is Giannis Antetokounmpo and he is the favorite to win this award at -250 betting odds. The Rockets’ James Harden is currently listed as a +200 second-favorite to win league MVP for the second season in a row. Also on the short list at most online sportsbooks offering action on this futures bet is Oklahoma City’s Paul George as a +10000 longshot.
With the regular season drawing to a close on April 10, all three players will have a few more chances to sway some voters in their favor.
It is easy to see why Antetokounmpo is the solid favorite to win this award. The Greek Freak is the main reason why the Bucks are second-favorites to win the 2019 NBA title and +170 favorites to win their first Eastern Conference title since 1974.
After posting an early exit in the opening round of the playoffs the past two seasons, Milwaukee has been able to post the best record in the NBA this year. Giannis deserves most of the credit for this season’s success as the team leader in points (27.3), rebounds (12.6) and assists (6.0). You could also credit first-year coach Mike Budenholzer, who figured out the best way to utilize all of his top player’s vast talents.
You already knew that Harden would be in the thick of things to win the award after being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for his efforts last season. The Rockets came within one game of beating Golden State in the Western Conference Finals with Harden leading the way.
Houston suffered through a slow start this season with lingering consistency issues that plagued them all the way to the All-Star break. Heading down the stretch, the Rockets are playing to expectations with a 14-4 mark since the break to climb within 4.5 games of the No. 1 seed in the West. Playing at this high level into the playoffs could make things rather interesting in another anticipated matchup against the Warriors for the Western Conference title.
Harden’s numbers speak for themselves this season starting with a NBA-best 36.2-point scoring average. He also leads the Rockets in assists (7.5) and steals (2.1). His signature trait shooting threes with a 36.2 percent conversion rate from beyond the arc. If the Rockets do go on and beat Golden State this season in the conference finals, you can almost guarantee that The Beard would be MVP of that series.
When it comes to finding the best value for this NBA futures bet, the Bucks’ superstar forward should win league MVP honors, but the -250 risk vs. reward on Giannis is way too high. I would still consider a small play on Harden at plus money. The precedent for winning back-to-back MVP awards is there with LeBron James (twice) and Stephen Curry each accomplishing this feat over the past 10 seasons.