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Odds to Win NBA MVP: Harden Is The Overwhelming Favorite

NBA MVP Odds February 5, 2019

It’s rare that an NBA MVP race can feel wrapped up after 50 games but James Harden’s scoring exploits have made him the clear favorite to take home the hardware.

Online sportsbook BetOnline has updated its odds and has Harden at -250 to win his second NBA MVP trophy with Giannis Antetokounmpo behind him at +350, Stephen Curry at +1200 and Joel Embiid and LeBron James at +1400 to round out the top five on the list.

While it feels like Harden has this award all but locked up due to him scoring 30 or more points in 29 straight games (and counting), bettors need to have a backup plan in case the Beard goes down with an injury from overuse. Let’s look at some of the other candidates who could step in if Harden steps back:

Joel Embiid – Odds at +1400

After playing a career-high 63 games last year, Joel Embiid is on pace to top 70 games and his stats have increased across the board. He’s averaging 27.2 points, 13.5 rebounds and 10 free throws to lead the Sixers to a 34-19 record after 53 games. In any other year, Embiid would be a worthy candidate to win MVP but unlike Harden, he has still sat out some games and has had a bad back recently which could set him up for injury. His MVP run might be better for next year when another player isn’t putting up Wilt Chamberlain numbers, so I wouldn’t jump on this as I don’t think Embiid has done enough to stand out and usurp Harden.

Paul George – Odds at +1800

My favorite player on the list based on how he’s played lately, PG-13 deserves more MVP love. George is averaging a career-high 27.8 points per game and his two-way play has helped to alleviate the shooting woes of Russell Westbrook this year. His only issue is that he plays with a point guard who won MVP two seasons ago. Voters would likely slight him for that factor but if Harden goes down, George goes straight to the top of the list over Giannis, in my opinion.

Nikola Jokic – Odds at +4000

This would be the best story because Nikola Jokic looks like the player anyone would have fun shooting hoops with because he passes the ball. Jokic leads all centers in assists per game and would be the first center since Bill Walton to average over seven dimes in a season. His infectious play along with the Nuggets’ new-found defense has pushed Denver to second in the Western Conference and the best home record in the NBA. 

Another reason why it would be a hilarious story is that a second-round pick has never come close to winning the MVP award. Since 1980, the lowest NBA draft pick to ever win MVP was Steve Nash at 15th. If the Nuggets continue to be one of the top two teams in the West and Harden was to go down with an injury, Jokic would be great value at +4000.

Who will win the 2018-19 NBA MVP Award?

Odds as of February 5 at Bovada

  • James Harden -250    
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +350          
  • Stephen Curry +1200 
  • Joel Embiid +1400      
  • LeBron James +1400  
  • Kawhi Leonard +1600
  • Paul George +1800    
  • Anthony Davis +2000 
  • Kevin Durant +2000   
  • Nikola Jokic +4000     
  • Russell Westbrook +4000      

Archived Articles

As we pass the halfway point of the NBA season, two players in James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo are playing head and shoulders above everyone else and oddsmakers have taken notice.

Online sportsbook Bovada has Harden and Giannis as the current co-favorites to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award for the 2018-19 season and have both listed at +150 on the oddsboard. Rounding out the top five candidates are LeBron James at +800, Stephen Curry at +1100 and Kawhi Leonard at +1200 to take home the MVP hardware.

The Betting Case for The Beard or The Greek Freak

Compelling arguments can be made for both players to win the MVP this season. James Harden is on an epic scoring tear that has seen him drop 30 or more points in 17 straight games as of this writing, while Giannis Antetokounmpo has seen his stats increase across the board this season to carry the Bucks to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Harden may have the stronger case because of the lack of help he has received from the rest of the Rockets roster. Chris Paul and Eric Gordon have both missed extended periods of time this season and center Clint Capela is expected to miss the next four to six weeks with a thumb injury. This means that the Beard’s shot attempts will likely increase even though he already leads the NBA at 23 shots per game.

He leads the NBA in scoring at 34.3 points per game and, historically, it’s not far-fetched for the reigning MVP to win it the following season. Since the award has been handed out, 11 players have won it in consecutive years and it’s a who’s who of all-time greats. The current value on Harden is nearly gone compared to earlier in the season when you could get him at +1000 near the middle of November, but now would be the time to grab him before he goes to minus-money.

I’m not knocking bettors who want to back Giannis. The Greek Freak has been arguably the best player in the Eastern Conference this season and his ability to score in the paint is something we haven’t seen since Shaq in the early 2000s. My only doubts about his candidacy are that I think the Bucks need to have the best record in the Eastern Conference and Harden’s scoring pace will have to slow down, so at +150, that’s a lot to ask for a winning bet.

My Dark-horse Pick

Although I think it would take the Nuggets to win the Western Conference and other factors to fall in place, I’d take a hard look at Nikola Jokic at +5000. The third-year center leads all frontcourt players in assists per game (7.5) and may be the only center since Bill Walton to have the offense exclusively run through the 5-spot.

Jokic is a joy to watch for hefty men everywhere as the Serbian hasn’t exactly been a model for an NBA athlete’s body but his body of work is what stands out. His Nuggets squad is one of the top teams in the NBA and he leads all centers in triple-doubles this year with five.

I’m not saying he’s going to win the award but if the Nuggets end up as the top seed in the West and he continues this pace, he could very well take the hardware and be the first true center to win it since Shaquille O’Neal during the 1999-2000 season

Who will win the 2018-19 NBA MVP Award?

Odds as of January 15 at Bovada

  • James Harden +150
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +150
  • LeBron James +800
  • Stephen Curry +1100
  • Kawhi Leonard +1200
  • Anthony Davis +1600
  • Kevin Durant +2000
  • Joel Embiid +2000
  • Paul George +2800
  • Russell Westbrook +3500
  • Nikola Jokic +5000
  • Damian Lillard +6000
  • Karl-Anthony Towns +6500
  • Ben Simmons +7000
  • Kyrie Irving +8000
  • Kemba Walker +8000
  • Blake Griffin +8000
  • DeMar DeRozan +10000
  • Donovan Mitchell +10000

Archived Articles

A select few NBA players will have the distinction of being considered for the Most Valuable Player award for the 2018-19 season and oddsmakers have seen enough of Giannis Antetokounmpo to have him as their favorite to take the hardware.

Online sportsbook BetOnline has Giannis at +150 followed by Anthony Davis at +450, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry at +600 and LeBron James at +750 to round out the top five. 

Let’s examine the odds below and identify some of the contenders and pretenders:


Giannis Antetokounmpo has all the credentials to win this award. His team has the second-best record in the East, all of his key stats like points, rebounds and assists are up from last season and the narrative of the Greek Freak winning MVP at 23 would be a great story. I’m not a huge fan of the odds at +150 because we’re only a short stint into the season so maybe wait on the Bucks to stumble a bit and let those odds get closer to +500 before dropping a stack on him.

Anthony Davis would be my pick if I had to choose today. He is matching Giannis stride for stride on the offensive side of the ball but he’s second in the league in blocks at 3.2 and opposing players always have to be aware of his presence when driving to the hoop. If Davis stays healthy and plays 70 or more games, he will likely take the trophy but since his usage rate is through the roof, he could be prone to injury.

LeBron is LeBron. The Lakers would be garbage without him but at 5-6 SU this season, he may not have enough help around him to get to 50 wins, which I think is a necessity for an MVP candidate. LABron is already averaging 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists which is close to his career average but those numbers at this stage would need to jump to 35, 12, 12 if he wants to dig the Lakers out of this hole.

The best value left on the board may be Kawhi Leonard. The Raptors are undefeated when he’s on the floor and his two-way play has elevated him into the conversation for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. His stats outside of points per game may not jump off the page but the eye test shows that any wing player can have the ball stolen at any time when Kawhi is matched up on him. If the Raptors get to 60 wins or more and he continues his steady play, he could be great value at +600.


There are a couple of players who I think are a complete waste of money to wager on for MVP and no one stands out more than Russell Westbrook. Look, I love him as a point guard and I think he’s still one of the top 10 players in the league but the triple-double is played out. His contributions to teams don’t bring them to winning records that should be comparable for an MVP candidate. Voters are a bit smarter than they were two years ago when he pulled off the first triple-double average for an entire season so at +2200, no thanks.

Another player who is off to a hot start that likely won’t last is Blake Griffin. The oft-injured Griffin has been electric with the Pistons this season by averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists but we’ve seen this movie before. Griffin balls out for the first quarter of the season but his style of play leads to bumps and bruises and eventually broken bones or torn ligaments. The eighth-year forward hasn’t played more than 70 games in a season since the 2013-14 season which is essential for an MVP candidate. 

Who will win the 2018-19 NBA MVP Award?

Odds as of November 9 at BetOnline

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +150          
  • Anthony Davis +450   
  • Kawhi Leonard +600  
  • Stephen Curry +600   
  • LeBron James +750    
  • James Harden +1000 
  • Kevin Durant +1000   
  • Joel Embiid +1400      
  • DeMar DeRozan +2000           
  • Russell Westbrook +2200      
  • Ben Simmons +3300  
  • Damian Lillard +3300 
  • Kemba Walker +5000

Archived Articles

The NBA Season is here and oddsmakers have updated their board for which baller they think will be 2018-19’s Most Valuable Player with LeBron James leading the pack.

King James tops the list at Bovada with +333 odds followed by Anthony Davis (+450), Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo (+500), reigning MVP James Harden (+650), Kawhi Leonard (+950), Kevin Durant (+1000), Stephen Curry (+1200), Joel Embiid (+1500), Kyrie Irving (+1500) and Russell Westbrook (+1600) to round out the top 10 on the oddsboard.

Is LeBron the Chosen One for MVP?

Since entering the league as an 18-year-old, the spotlight has always been the brightest on LeBron. The 33-year-old owns four MVP trophies to his name and by entering the twilight of his career in the purple and gold, he is set up to add a fifth piece of hardware. Although expectations will be (and should be) sky-high for LeBron and his new squad, it will still take a masterful season from him to push the Lakers to be competitive in the loaded Western Conference.

For starters, this is a team that finished 35-47 SU last season and ranked 25th in points allowed per game. While LeBron owns a collection of highlights featuring chase-down blocks, he isn’t exactly known for his defensive intensity like in his 20s so to assume the Lakers’ defensive liabilities will be fully cured with his arrival would be foolish. Another factor that I feel might be a hindrance in backing James for MVP is that the majority of this Lakers core is 23 years old or younger. That youth could be an asset for the dog days of the season but James isn’t exactly known for patience when it comes to bad habits/losing that is usually associated with younger players.

From a stats perspective, LeBron will also need to hit certain statistical metrics to be genuinely considered for MVP coupled with a strong W-L record. If he can top 26 points, eight assists and eight rebounds per game along with at least 50 wins for the Lakers, the +333 price tag doesn’t seem so daunting.

Bettors Should Only Consider Five Ballers

While some may feel this is a wide-open race for MVP, I’m here to say anyone betting this prop should just stick to players in the top 10. This is a “cream of the crop” type of award with players either needing to be on the team with the best NBA W-L record or being such a statistical marvel that voters can’t overlook their exploits.

Anthony Davis

This is why Anthony Davis makes an interesting candidate to win NBA MVP because statistically, nobody in the league can touch him when he’s at full health. The Brow is part of a new wave of centers who can not only guard the rim but step back and shoot the three. The Pelicans are not even close to leading the Western Conference standings but his impact on both ends of the court makes his odds at +450 very enticing.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a strong fixture on the oddsboard for most of last season to win MVP before the Bucks tailed off in the Eastern Conference. Giannis, for lack of a better word, is a freak on the basketball court with the ability to handle the ball and finish at the rim like no other player due to his unmatched wingspan. The Bucks did an overhaul of their coaching staff and if the Greek Freak can match his stats from last season and carry them to 50 wins or more, Milwaukee may be in line to have its first MVP on the roster since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973-74.

James Harden

James Harden is the reigning MVP and while he’s an offensive savant in today’s game, his chances of repeating shouldn’t be so high at +650. This past season felt like a makeup award from voters after he finished second in the MVP voting in two of the previous three seasons. The roster surrounding Harden is much stronger than other players on this list have and with the addition of Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets, voters may slight him with the reasoning that his productivity is due to the talent in Houston.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the dark-horse pick of this bunch as it’s still uncertain how healthy/happy he is. For this exercise, let’s assume he is back to the form he showed in San Antonio prior to the injury drama and if that’s the case, he and the Raptors could be scary in the East. Kawhi finished second in MVP voting in 2015-16 and won Defensive Player of the Year in 2014-15 and 2015-16. With him being injected into a roster that won 59 games last season, Leonard could be in line for a huge season especially with him seeking a nine-figure payday in a contract year.

Who are you betting on to win NBA MVP? Have your say in the comments section.

Who will win the 2018-19 NBA MVP Award?

Odds as of October 16 at Bovada

  • Lonzo Ball +45000
  • Kyle Lowry +32500
  • Devin Booker +27500
  • Kristaps Porzingis +27500
  • Blake Griffin +22500
  • DeMarcus Cousins +17500
  • Gordon Hayward +15000
  • Jayson Tatum +15000
  • Paul George +12500
  • LaMarcus Aldridge +12500
  • Jimmy Butler +10000
  • Chris Paul +10000
  • Nikola Jokic +10000
  • DeMar DeRozan +8000
  • John Wall +7500
  • Victor Oladipo +6600
  • Karl-Anthony Towns +6000
  • Damian Lillard +3500
  • Donovan Mitchell +2500
  • Ben Simmons +2500
  • Russell Westbrook +1600
  • Kyrie Irving +1500
  • Joel Embiid +1500
  • Stephen Curry +1200
  • Kevin Durant +1000
  • Kawhi Leonard +950
  • James Harden +650
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo +500
  • Anthony Davis +450
  • LeBron James +333