I’ll get this out of the way early: that LeBron hasn’t been the MVP at least a dozen times during his career is a travesty. Now that I’ve been able to get that off my chest, I’ll proceed.
The MVP award means more in basketball than any other sport. The reason? One player makes up 20% of the on-court presence when he’s out there. One player can turn an entire organization almost instantly.
In addition to all of this, you can make a good deal of money if you’re able to accurately predict the MVP. In this article, I’ll explain 4 tips to help you do just that.
1 – Know Who’s Up Next
Although I mentioned the travesty of LeBron not winning the MVP more frequently than he has over the course of his career, I’m able to acknowledge that the MVP selection process doesn’t always [read: rarely] come down to which player is the most valuable to his team. Rather, it’s about two things: the best story, and who’s “up.”
James Harden, Giannis, Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard have all won the MVP over the past half-dozen seasons. Now, I won’t go as far as to say they weren’t deserving, but it is clear that there’s a pattern to be observed. Those who vote for the MVP like to mix it up.
Yes, there have been back-to-back MVP awards, but often times the distinction is awarded to not the best or most valuable player overall, but the best or most valuable player who hasn’t won it yet. Consider the number of times each of these players have finished in the top 5 of MVP voting without winning it. When they eventually did get the honor, it was arguably just because voters felt their cumulative production over the previous several seasons was worthy of at least one MVP.
Those who would disagree with my assertion above might counter with something like, “The year they won it, they were clearly more productive on the court than the other players.” Maybe this is true, but I don’t think that I would chalk that up as a cold hard fact. With few exceptions, every year there are 2 or 3 other players who could have arguably ended up with the MVP.
From a bettor’s perspective, this makes taking the futures bet on the eventual MVP a bit more difficult than it should be. As the league currently stands, most of the top players have won it and an outsider seems unlikely to slide in and win.
The bottom line and the point I’m trying to make is that if you’re looking to identify the MVP, you must take into account the storylines of the season as much as the expected output of a player.
2 – It’s Not Really About Most the Valuable Player
Back to LeBron again (sorry). Think of the Cavaliers or the Heat – when LeBron left, the teams went from being perennial championship contenders to non-playoff teams that looked lost. For this reason alone, I don’t think anyone can argue that the MVP award is strictly about “valuable.” If it was, LeBron would win it each year.
Rather than simply focusing on how valuable a player is to his team, the award has come to represent a trophy for the player who had the best season on a good team (or even on a mid-level playoff team).
Take for example Russell Westbrook’s triple-double season. Yes, he managed to do something that hasn’t been seen in the NBA for decades.
Westbrook’s numbers were undoubtedly impressive and will go down in the history books. But was he really the most valuable player to his team?
Whether you look at Kevin Durant’s MVP season, James Harden, or even Giannis’s, an argument can be made that they still weren’t as valuable as LeBron to their respective teams. However, they all put up massive numbers, and were next in line when it was their turn to take the trophy.
“Is this player in position to put up the best numbers of his career during this season?”
If the answer is yes, you might have a good pick for your futures bet.
3 – But Value is Huge for Bettors
Let’s go back to the idea of “value.” Although the concept of value might not be the only thing that matters to the NBA MVP voters, it should be the most important thing to you as a bettor.
Finding value in a bet means setting yourself up to win, even if you lose at the same time. Allow me to explain: in 2021, the top four “favorites” for the MVP are all +400 or higher. If you look past the top two favorites, you’ll start to get into the +500 range, and Kevin Durant rounds out the top eight at +1000.
What all this means is that you could package together 3 different players – even the top three favorites – and win money overall if one of the three takes home the award.
Personally, I would suggest take one in each range. Take a flyer on someone in the bottom-tier of the favorites, a player in the middle of the favorite group, and then the first or second-highest favorite.
Futures betting is all about giving yourself as many options to be winners as possible, “diversification” you could call it. When you’re presented with such favorable odds it’s important to take advantage. The sportsbooks rely on those bettors who only pick one or two players to make their money.
At the end of the day, you need to give yourself as many chances to win as possible. Evaluate the odds and go with the players who you deem to have the highest value given their potential payout if they come through and win the MVP.
4 – Don’t Forget About Live Bets
Just as you can bet on a game as it progresses, so too can you bet on the MVP award throughout the course of the season. If you feel like you could benefit from watching how a player is performing through the first weeks, months, or half of the season, it might be a good idea to take the “live bet.”
Just as I mentioned in the previous section, this concept also comes down to value. As players’ MVP stock rises and falls, you should be tracking the numbers and make your picks when the time is right. For example, if a preseason favorite has a bad two-game stretch, their number might rise. If you strike while the time is right, you could the same players at a lower risk (or higher potential payout).
Obviously, betting it this way will require you to constantly monitor the odds, but a little effort could go a long way if you’re able to cash in. Simply set a reminder to look once or twice a week and you’ll be on top of the market all season long.
Additionally, don’t forget that you can bet on a player twice, although this might not be recommended unless something happens where the numbers shift significantly.
Toward the end of the season it might start to become clear that one player is going to run away with it and the odds turn into a situation where you have to risk more than you have to gain. Understand that this is the risk you’re taking if you wait until later in the season to make the play.
In my opinion, live betting the MVP at online sportsbooks doesn’t provide as much value as betting it before the season. However, this depends on who you’re taking, and as always, comes down to the odds and the shifts the betting markets create.
Of all the futures bets, the NBA MVP is my favorite because it falls right into the space of predictable while still being high-value. Also, if you’re an NBA fan, it’s enjoyable to track “your” players throughout the course of the season.
At the end of the day, the key to being successful is seeking value and packaging together as may options as possible. If you do that, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to cash in.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.