NBA MVP Odds: LeBron James Regains Lead in Award Race

Up until being diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee, Joel Embiid had been having a career year. His 29.9/11.5/3.3 stat line saw his NBA MVP odds get boosted to the top spot. However, the fact that he’s injured and expected to miss a minimum of a few weeks means Embiid odds of ending the season as the Most Valuable Player have dropped.

Instead, as of March 16, LeBron James has reclaimed the top spot on BetOnline’s NBA MVP odds list. At +105, James has the best chance of being the league’s MVP as long as he carries the Los Angeles Lakers until Anthony Davis returns. Even though he’s 36 years old, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile, Embiid’s odds to win the NBA MVP Award have shifted to +600. While they’re not the best odds, he’s still in the race — although, that could change depending on how long he’s out for.

2021 NBA MVP Award Odds

Odds via BetOnline as of Tuesday, March 16

  • LeBron James +105
  • Nikola Jokic +275
  • Joel Embiid +600
  • James Harden +800
  • Luka Doncic +1200
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +1400
  • Stephen Curry +1600
  • Damian Lillard +2200
  • Kawhi Leonard +3300
  • Donovan Mitchell +5000

With James Leading, is Embiid Out of the MVP Race?

While a knee injury shouldn’t take away what Joel Embiid has done this season, you have to assume it hinders his chances of winning his first MVP title. The good news is that he’s estimated to only be out for two to three weeks. But a lot can change in the NBA in that time. Embiid would have to be even more dominant than he already has this season.

On the other hand, LeBron James is proving why he deserves to win his fifth NBA MVP Award. That’s something only three other players have done — Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6).

James is averaging 25.5/7.9/7.9 as of March 16 as a 36-year-old. Not only that, but he has the Lakers sitting third in the Eastern Conference over a month since Davis was injured. All of the facts just add to James’ case of being the 2020-21 NBA Most Valuable Player.

Jokic Maintaining Steady MVP Pace

Even though many of the NBA MVP Awards odds headlines reflect Embiid and James, it’s important for bettors not to forget about Nikola Jokic. The Denver Nuggets superstar is setting career-highs in points (27.3), rebounds (11.2) and assists (8.5). He’s also shooting efficiently on .562/.414/.872 splits. In early March, Jokic was +375 to win the MVP award, but his chances have improved to +275 with Embiid’s injury.

The Nuggets placement may be the determining factor for Jokic to win MVP. As of March 13, Denver is only 5.5 games out of first in the Western Conference. However, they’re only 3.5 games above eighth-place. If Jokic continues his play and the Nuggets finish above or near the Lakers, his odds could improve.

One other thing to note is that a center has not won Most Valuable Player since Shaquille O’Neal did it back in the 1999-00 NBA Season.

Harden Leads Nets Big 3 in NBA MVP Odds

When James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets near the start of the NBA season, Kevin Durant was the team’s MVP candidate on multiple sportsbooks. Bovada even had him at +550 as recently as early-February. Now, it looks like Harden is the likeliest Net to win the award.

Harden has been average 25+ points since joining the Nets even when some people doubted that he would get the same offensive looks as he was getting in Houston. With Durant missing time, Harden’s had to do a lot more offensive work to help Brooklyn climb the East rankings. If he’s able to continue doing this when Durant is back and healthy and the Nets finish as the East’s top team, Harden could be a serious MVP candidate.

Betting on the NBA MVP Award and NBA Futures

If you want to wager on the NBA MVP odds, you need to first create an account on a sportsbook of your choice. At the end of the day, it’s whichever one you’re most comfortable with. After that, you can choose which market you’d like to bet on.

Here are some of the NBA markets you’ll find on various sportsbooks:

  • Futures: Wagering on events that might be a few days or months away. NBA Award races are an example of a future bet.
  • Moneyline: A bet where all you need to do is choose the outright winner of a match-up.
  • Point Spread: A total number of points will be given that a favorited team needs to win by. If they win by that amount or more, that team “covers the spread.”
  • Prop Bets: If you want more unique markets, look at prop bets. Sometimes they can be based on the outcome of a game. Other times, they can be weirder, unique scenarios.
  • Over/Under: A combined point total will be given that both teams are expected to reach. You then choose if they’ll combine for more (Over) or less (Under) points.

Every market has its own odds and odds can vary depending on which sportsbook you’re using. However, these odds work the same. If there’s a positive sign (+) beside a number, that’s how much you win if you bet $100.

  • Example: A $100 bet on Lebron James to win the MVP at +105 means you’d win $105 if he’s successful.

At the same time, odds can also have a negative sign (-) with them. That number indicates how much money you need to wager to win $100.

  • Example: If the Philadelphia 76ers are the -200 favorite to win a game, you’d have to spend $200 to win $100 (provided they’re victorious).

NBA Futures

Futures are one of the most exciting forms of sports betting. While someone may be a clearcut frontrunner today, that can change within a week. Trades, injuries and streaks (both hot and cold) can affect NBA MVP odds. That’s why it’s important to research before you wager your money. You want to know how a player has performed lately and what the team’s situation is. You may also want to research MVP trends to see what players have done to earn the award lately. Even sports betting experts do research before putting money down.

When it’s your money up for grabs, five to 10 minutes of research can be the difference between winning nothing or walking out with your pockets full.