Odds to win NBA MVP and Rookie of Year: Is this the season of Giannis?
Odds to win NBA MVP and Rookie of Year: Is this the season of Giannis?
The race for the NBA's 2018-19 MVP looks terrific, as does the chase for Rookie of the Year, with oddsmakers giving plenty of players chances at earning the hardware.
The 2018-19 NBA season tips off Tuesday night with the Celtics hosting the 76ers, followed by the defending champion Warriors welcoming the Thunder. While the season is just beginning, it's never too early to take a gander at the races for the key awards, especially when there are bets to be made. The MVP race looks terrific, as does the chase for Rookie of the Year, with oddsmakers giving plenty of players chances at earning the hardware. Let's take a look at the top candidates for each, [complete with their odds at Bovada](https://www.bovada.lv/sports/basketball/nba-season-props). ### MVP favorites and their odds __LeBron James (+333)__ LeBron going to the Lakers shook the basketball world, and he's going to have the power of the narrative behind him. If LeBron can bring the Lakers back to glory, he's going to get a ton of MVP love, especially since he hasn't won the award since 2013, and there's little reason to anticipate a statistical decline. But will the Lakers be good enough for LeBron to warrant MVP? They have an interesting (this is putting it nicely) mix of players, and it could take time to jell and hit their stride in a loaded Western Conference. In the last 30 years, only Russell Westbrook (2017) and Michael Jordan (1988) have won MVP from a team outside the top two in their conference, which will be a tall order for Los Angeles. It's not bad to bet on The King because of his consistent dominance and durability, but he's no slam-dunk favorite for the award and may not provide the value bettors are looking for. __Anthony Davis (+450)__ The Brow is coming off the best season of his career and his first playoff series victory, and he's now ready to stake his claim as the best player in the league. While some may still be worried about Davis' health, he has played 75 games two seasons in a row and seems to have put his injury-prone days behind him. Davis could run into a similar problem as LeBron. The Pelicans are projected [at 45.5 wins this season](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-title-odds-win-totals-bulls-2018), three fewer than Los Angeles. A healthy Davis will be a dominant two-way player with silly numbers, but the Pelicans will be hard-pressed to finish in the top four. __Giannis Antetokounmpo (+500)__ While The Greek Freak has blossomed into a superstar, the Bucks have failed to take that next step. Perhaps that leap happens this season under Mike Budenholzer and vaults Antetokounmpo to MVP front-runner status. Giannis and the Bucks wrecked preseason playing their new-and-improved style, racking up a monster 115.0 offensive rating in four games, [per NBA.com](https://stats.nba.com/teams/advanced/?sort=OFF_RATING&dir=-1). If Antetokounmpo improves upon his already ridiculous numbers (27/10/5) while the Bucks crash the presumptive top three in the Eastern Conference (Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers), he very well could have a chance at this. __James Harden (+650)__ The reigning MVP, Harden is primed for another monster season on one of the best teams in the league. There are a couple of issues with Harden's candidacy this year, though. Since The Beard won it last season, he'll likely have to match or exceed his production to have a chance in 2018-19. Furthermore, while the Rockets will be awesome again, a step back from 65 wins is realistic (projected at 57, according to win totals). Harden is great, but winning two MVPs in a row will be tough given the circumstances. __Kawhi Leonard (+950)__ This is an intriguing one. Leonard established himself as a top-five player before last year's weirdness, and all indications suggest he's 100 percent healthy again. The Raptors won a franchise-record 59 games last season, and they're projected at 55.5 this season. A dominant Leonard on this deep and versatile team could push them close to 60 victories again, which would put him in great position to snag this award. This would be a risky play since we haven't seen Leonard play at a high level in a while, but the payout would be nice. __Others__ Kevin Durant (+1000) and Stephen Curry (+1200) are going to put up huge numbers on a dominant team, but the Warriors have so much talent, voters won't feel inclined to vote for them. Maybe KD embarks on a true eff you season before leaving next summer, but it would be surprising to see a Warrior win as long as Durant is there. The two Sixers youngsters, Joel Embiid (+1500) and Ben Simmons (+2500), are fun dark-horse options. Embiid is a two-way monster, and Simmons is a triple-double threat every night; but JoJo is an injury risk, and Simmons may not score enough. And, finally, a trio of explosive guards in Kyrie Irving (+1500), Russell Westbrook (+1600) and Donovan Mitchell (+2500) are sure to put up dazzling displays night after night on good teams. Irving's Celtics are the favorites to win the East, and Westbrook is Mr. Triple-Double, but these guys are still long shots. __Also read:__ [Ten NBA storylines](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-storylines-2018-19-season) ### Rookie of the Year favorites and their odds __Luka Doncic (+333)__ Doncic's accomplishments playing professionally in Europe were unprecedented for a player of his age, so he has a leg up on the competition in that regard. While there are questions about his athleticism, the 19-year-old is a wizard with the ball. The Mavericks will use Doncic's versatile skill set in different ways, and he should get plenty of opportunities to shine in the starting lineup. Given his skills, opportunity and NBA readiness, his short price is justified. __Deandre Ayton (+375)__ The No. 1 pick in the draft, Ayton was an absolute monster in preseason. The 7-footer notched 18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 61.4 percent from the field. This was without Devin Booker, who missed all of preseason with a hand injury. Booker's return will take touches away from Ayton, but the big man is bound to put up big numbers on a bad Suns team. It's why he and Doncic are neck-and-neck as favorites for this award. I'd slightly lean toward Ayton at this point as longer odds. __Collin Sexton (+500)__ With LeBron James and Kyrie Irving gone in back-to-back summers, the Cavaliers needed a new face of the franchise to go along with Kevin Love. Enter Sexton, the eighth pick in the draft. Sexton will come off the bench to start the season, but he's going to get a huge opportunity as a primary ballhandler. He'll likely struggle with efficiency as a rookie as he looks to refine his shooting, but he should put up numbers. __Kevin Knox (+750)__ The Knicks will not have Kristaps Porzingis for a good chunk of this season, and perhaps all of it. That means Kevin Knox will get a prime chance in the frontcourt. Knox struggled in preseason to the tune of 32.7 percent shooting, so be wary of that, but he's going to get plenty of opportunities to play through his mistakes for what will likely be an awful Knicks team. __Marvin Bagley III (+1100)__ The Kings have a ton of young big men, so it will be interesting to see how Dave Joerger juggles all of these bodies. Bagley should play big minutes, though, after being selected No. 2 overall. Let's just hope Joerger doesn't try his crazy-big lineups too often. But you never know, this is the Kings we're talking about here. Either way, the talented Bagley isn't a bad play at 11/1 odds, since developing him should be one of the Kings' main priorities of the season. __Others__ Trae Young (+1100) is a fun play. Young will start for the Hawks and put up a bunch of shots and hand out plenty of dimes. He may not be the most efficient, but he should be thrilling. Wendell Carter Jr. (+1100) is also interesting, especially now that it looks like he'll be starting at center for the Bulls over Robin Lopez. The issue with Carter is he may not put up prolific numbers, instead doing a lot of dirty work and making steady but not spectacular stats. Jaren Jackson Jr. (+1200) has a high ceiling, but his issues with foul trouble in college carried over to preseason and will likely plague him as a rookie. It's hard to see him putting up the necessary numbers to get this award. __NBA futures:__ [Oddsmaker doesn't get bettors' love for Bulls](https://www.betchicago.com/nba-title-odds-win-totals-bulls-2018)2018-10-16T16:15:23.022Z2018-10-16T12:15-04:00