Five years ago Kevin Durant played well enough to win his first NBA title and claim NBA Finals MVP. Unfortunately, Durant’s 30.6 points per game didn’t lead his Oklahoma City Thunder to a championship and it was instead LeBron James who claimed the MVP honors.
Fast forward to the 2017 NBA Finals and Durant seems to be well aware that he’s got an amazing shot at redemption. The scenery is vastly different, as Durant latched on with the Warriors and King James returned home to Cleveland. The Cavs, trying to defend their franchise’s first ever NBA title, are already buried in a 2-0 hole as the series shifts to Quicken Loans Arena for a crucial game three.
The question for NBA bettors trying to make a decision on who wins this year’s NBA Finals MVP, is whether or not the damage has already been done. That stretches to all respects, too, as Golden State looks like the better team to this point and it’s worth wondering if a 2-0 series lead virtually has this title in the bag already.
2017 NBA Finals MVP – Odds to Win
Even more interesting could be who ends up being named MVP, and whether or not anyone but Kevin Durant can secure the award from here. Durant is in the lead in terms of 2017 NBA Finals MVP odds as things stand over at BetOnline, but we have to ponder other options if we want to make any kind of profit:
Kevin Durant – Warriors (-230)
Stephen Curry – Warriors (+225)
LeBron James – Cavaliers (+1000)
Draymond Green – Warriors (+1600)
Klay Thompson – Warriors (+5000)
Kyrie Irving – Cavaliers (+5000)
Kevin Love – Cavaliers (+5000)
KD has proven to be quite unstoppable through the first two games, and there’s little reason to fight back in regards to him winning the award if things keep going as they’ve gone. Durant has averaged 35 points per game and if he keeps up those averages and helps the Dubs finish what they started last year, he will be the undeniable choice to win the Finals MVP.
Ruling Others Out
While Durant is the obvious choice to get the ball rolling, he’s not the only choice. This looks like a clear three-man race between Durant, teammate Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
Before breaking down which makes for the best bet, we need to appropriately rule out the other contenders BetOnline offers up. Draymond Green sports the fourth best NBA Finals MVP odds beyond our top three candidates and even he feels like a considerable reach.
Green has been a strong force defensively and is a constant triple-double threat, but he’s barely averaging over 10 points per game in this series. Usually the MVP winner has a bigger offensive role or makes a slew of key plays that decide games and as good as Green has been, he doesn’t fit the bill here.
If we’re not seriously considering Green for NBA Finals MVP, I’m not sure we can consider Klay Thompson. Thompson showed up and played a huge hand in Golden State’s game two win, but he was absent from game one. He does make a big impact as a strong defender, but he doesn’t do much on offense other than score the ball. Like Green, he’s a huge piece to Golden State’s championship puzzle, but he’s not the key.
Kyrie Irving has a mild argument and sports supreme betting value at +5000 but he wasn’t great in game one or two and is lacking efficiency in this series. He’d need to blow up offensively and deliver terrific defense on the other end to work his way to the MVP award. After all, if the Cavs somehow stormed back and won the Finals, it’s much more likely James would again win the MVP award, and not Irving.
The same goes for Love, who did crush the glass (21 rebounds) in game one and showed up offensively in game two, but hasn’t been a factor defensively and will likely be too erratic to be strongly considered for the award.
It’s possible this series could still go seven games (although not that likely at this point), so we can’t for sure rule anyone out. However, as things stand, these other options would have to trump the top candidates by a considerable margin just to be considered.
Three MVP Threats
The race is probably down to Durant, Curry and King James. Durant is the obvious front-runner, as the Cavs haven’t shown any signs of stopping him and his team has a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Durant has been displaying lights out offensive ability, but he’s also proven to be a very strong force defensively, while averaging 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. That is a sick double-double and if that comes remotely close to lasting and the Warriors win, it’s game over.
The argument here is Curry and James do sport tons of value here and if things break just right, both would have an interesting case to be named the 2017 NBA Finals MVP.
We can probably get rid of James early here, as his +1600 odds are ridiculously playable, but the Cavs almost certainly need to win the Finals to get him the award.
He’s been a monster through the first two games and will need to be just as good or better from this point on. If that happens and they win, he’s a lock.
All of that makes a flier bet on James very much in play. Writing off the Cavs this early (and in turn, LeBron James) seems silly, as Cleveland was down in this same 2-0 hole last year and even 3-1 before finding a way to win it all. That could easily still happen again this year and it’d put James firmly in play as an insane upside bet.
The other option is to convince ourselves the Warriors aren’t going to blow an insane lead in the biggest championship series in basketball for the second year in a row. If not, this comes down to Durant or Curry and if that’s the case, we need to think long and hard about targeting the value Curry offers.
Curry doesn’t have nearly the playability as James does, but he’s still a viable contender after averaging over 30 points and 10.5 dimes per contest through the first two games. He’s also been a monster on the glass, picking up over 8 boards per game and nearly chipping in a triple-double to start the series.
If Curry keeps that statistical pace up it will be very difficult to deny him the Finals MVP.
Who Should You Bet On?
I don’t see much reason to bet on KD. At this point the Dubs would have to try pretty hard to lose and he’s been playing way too well to expect him to suddenly hit a wall. The Cavs flat out do not have anyone that can stop all of these pieces and that plays a huge hand in Durant operating as he pleases.
I’m sure Durant’s averages could take a minor hit, but if the Warriors win this thing he’s going to get a ton of credit as the “missing link” that helped them rise up and beat the Cavs after losing the year prior.
Despite that, there isn’t any value in betting on Durant. The value 100% lies with James and Curry, making both bets very viable. Curry is the more logical bet and deserves some money thrown his way, while we can’t write off James. If James is even remotely viable, we need to consider placing some cash on him.
While we certainly want to target Curry and James here for their upside, Durant is on a scorching pace and he owns the narrative right now. If he can keep pace and Golden State wins, he’s the call.
Pick: Durant (-230)
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