2020 NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year Expert Picks, Best Odds
The early season hyperbole that enveloped 20-year-old Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Dončić in the race for the 2020 NBA MVP award among oddsmakers has faded.
Early in 2020, the success of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has given the “Greek Freak” a monstrous betting edge over Super Sophomore Dončić in the MVP chase.
NBA expert Nate Duncan, who co-hosts the Dunc’d On podcast and the live NBACast sponsored by Bookies.Com with Danny Leroux, agrees that oddsmakers are correct in making Antetokounmpo the current choice to win the NBA’s most important individual honor.
“Giannis is now No. 1,” Duncan said on his January NBA Awards podcast. “(The Bucks) are having a historic season and he’s the best player. I don’t default to that all the time (but) It wasn’t a hard choice.”
The favorite Antetokounmpo spiked from +190 to -125 at 888sport in the past 32 days. Meanwhile, Dončić has risen from +375 to +425.
Leroux and Duncan have the same top four players as last month among their MVP picks: James Harden, LeBron James, Antetokounmpo and Dončić.
2020 NBA MVP Best Odds
(All odds listed are current as of publication.)
Dončić’s durability may become an issue as the season progresses. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle flashed a distress signal after a 123-120 loss to Charlotte on Jan. 4. The coach complained that opponents are “beating the (expletive)” out of Dončić and referees need to do a better job of protecting the future of the Mavericks franchise.
“Taking physical liberties on him, trying to knock him down, beat him up, stuff like that. It's not good. It's not good. He's handling it very well, but it's happening every game,” Carlisle said, according to ESPN.
The physical grind of NBA is not nearly the concern for Antetokounmpo, given that the 6-11, 242-pound “Freak” is often delivering as much punishment as he receives.
Leroux is sticking with Harden as his MVP pick because of his minutes played and pure offensive production.
Harden averages more than three-quarters per-game on the floor, but is still is scoring more points (38.4 per game) than minutes played (37.6). And as of Monday, Harden has played a total of 1,278.4 minutes, while Antetokounmpo has logged 1050.6. That’s the equivalent of 4.7 full games difference.
“It’s still James Harden, with the caveat that Giannis has still been a better per-minute player,” Leroux said. “But a big part of value is actually being on the floor.”
Between their top four: Duncan likes, in order: Antetokounmpo, Harden, Dončić and James. While Leroux favors Harden, Antetokounmpo, James and Dončić. The two swapped out their 5th choice. Duncan swung toward Lakers forward Anthony Davis and away from Karl Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves. While Leroux flipped Towns over Davis in his rankings.
Here are their thoughts and the odds on the other notable 2020 NBA individual player awards, including the 2020 Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and 6th Man of the Year.
The NBACast sponsored by Bookies.Com returns on Thursday at 8 p.m. when the Philadelphia 76ers play host to Atlantic Division rival Boston.
NBA 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Best Odds
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was a clear choice for both Duncan and Leroux to win NBA 2020 Defensive Player of the Year honors a month ago.
Now they’re split between Gobert and Antetokounmpo.
Leroux makes Gobert his No. 1 choice over Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers because of his pronounced role in the recent success of the Jazz, who have won nine of 10 heading into play Monday night.
“Now the disparity of when he is off the floor is more pronounced that it had been,” he said.
Duncan said Gobert is “not quite amazing as he has been” and went with Antetokounmpo as his top choice, followed by Embiid.
Antetokounmpo’s “97.9 defensive rating when he’s on the floor leads all the other candidates and the Bucks are the best defensive team in the league by three points per 100 possessions,” Duncan said.
NBA 2020 6th Man of the Year Best Odds
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Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams remains the strong favorite to claim the 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award for the fourth time in 2020 among oddsmakers.
The Los Angeles Clippers' guard is -160, according to FanDuel That makes him the biggest favorite among any player in these award categories.
Guard Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets would not be eligible for the award if the season ended today. He has started more than half of his team’s 37 games in place of Kyrie Irving. Dinwiddie has started 23 games this season and will not be eligible for this award if he starts more than 41.
Because of that, Duncan did not include Dinwiddie in his picks this month.
“You have guys doing a lot of different things coming off the bench and they all have value,” Duncan said in explaining his rationale in making his pick of Montrezl Harrell as his No. 1 choice.
“He can score off the bench and he’s improved his defense,” Duncan said of Harrell. “He closes games for a really good team.”
Leroux has a familiar name as his top pick: Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose “by a decent margin.”
“The Pistons offense is good when he is one the floor. And he’s been the only really good offensive player. He’s closed games when they needed it,” Leroux said. “He’s had a lot more to do and he’s done it well.”
George Hill of the Bucks is the consensus second choice. Duncan said Hill is “one of the best role players in the league” while Leroux added that “his efficiency is ridiculous.”
NBA 2020 Rookie of the Year Best Odds
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The NBA 2020 Rookie of the Year betting discussion no longer remains contingent on the Pelicans debut of No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, who tore his right lateral meniscus before the season began and has yet to play. Williamson participated in his first practice on Jan. 2.
The Pelicans are adamant that Williamson will begin his NBA career — when he’s healthy.
“You see the narrative out there that we will intentionally shut him down. Or that they’re idiots for not shutting him down,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told USA TODAY Sports. “Well, which is it? The reality is when he’s ready, he’s going to play.”
While Williamson had been a strong preseason favorite for the award, his odds have tumbled to +1000 at DraftKings. Meanwhile, Ja Morant’s odds have surged to -200.
Duncan and Leroux are solidly behind Morant, 20, as their selection for the award. Morant, a point guard, has been stellar for the Memphis Grizzlies since returning from a minor back injury last month.
Guard Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat is the joint No. 2 pick for Duncan and Leroux.
“It’s not even close to me,” Duncan said in explaining his rationale. “I default to who is the best long-term NBA prospect. Nunn is 25 years old.”
“Morant is doing more and doing it better,” Leroux added.
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