NBA MVP best bets: Durant, George primed for career seasons

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

With the NBA season on its way, time is running out to grab the best value in the MVP market, which is sure to move quickly when stars get off to hot starts. That said, this year is a wide-open race, with three of the six favorites having never won the award before.

Here are the preseason odds to win the award at theScore Bet and our three best bets ahead of the 2021-22 season:

PLAYER ODDS
Luka Doncic +400
Joel Embiid +700
Stephen Curry +700
Giannis Antetokounmpo +750
Kevin Durant +750
Damian Lillard +1200
LeBron James +1400
Nikola Jokic +1500
Trae Young +1800
Devin Booker +2200
James Harden +2300
Anthony Davis +2600
Jayson Tatum +2600
Paul George +2700
Kawhi Leonard +2800
Russell Westbrook +2800
Donovan Mitchell +2900
Kyrie Irving +4000
Zion Williamson +4000
Ja Morant +4500
Bradley Beal +5500
Domantas Sabonis +5500
Jimmy Butler +5500
Julius Randle +6000
Zach LaVine +7000
Karl-Anthony Towns +7500
Chris Paul +9000
Bam Adebayo +10000
Jaylen Brown +10000
Klay Thompson +12500
Jamal Murray +13000
LaMelo Ball +13000
Pascal Siakam +14000
Ben Simmons +15000
CJ McCollum +15000
Khris Middleton +15000
Nikola Vucevic +15000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander +15000
Brandon Ingram +16000
De'Aaron Fox +16000
Tobias Harris +17500
DeMar DeRozan +18000
Malcolm Brogdon +19000
DeAndre Ayton +22000
Lonzo Ball +22000
Jrue Holiday +22500
Rudy Gobert +22500
Cade Cunningham +24000
Collin Sexton +24000
Michael Porter Jr. +24500
Anthony Edwards +25000
Christian Wood +25000
Jalen Green +25000
Kemba Walker +25000
Kristaps Porzingis +26000
Derrick Rose +27500
Evan Mobley +27500
D'Angelo Russell +30000
RJ Barrett +30000
Draymond Green +35000
Kevin Porter Jr. +35000
Victor Oladipo +40000
Aaron Gordon +45000

Kevin Durant, F, Nets (+750)

Is this award Durant's to lose? The 2013-14 MVP winner was expected to start slow in his first season back from an Achilles injury. Instead, he scored 26.9 points per game - his highest average since leaving Oklahoma City in 2016 - and set career highs in field-goal percentage (53.7%) and 3-point percentage (45%) in his first season with the Nets.

Now he enters this campaign as the clear focal point of a Brooklyn offense that could be without Kyrie Irving for an extended period, if not the entire season. Irving used 30.4% of the Nets' possessions while on the court last year, so his absence could mean career numbers for his prolific teammate.

Paul George, F, Clippers (+2700)

I've been eyeing George as a legitimate MVP candidate since early August, when he was dealing at 35-1 to win the award at theScore Bet and even higher at some other shops. He's still worth a bet at this price just three years removed from finishing third in MVP voting in his final year with the Thunder.

He's taken a backseat to teammate Kawhi Leonard in two seasons since, but he'll have every opportunity to lead the Clippers on both ends of the court with Leonard sidelined for most (if not all) of the season. We saw what George could do as the lead dog in the playoffs, when he averaged 29.6 points, 11 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.4 steals in Leonard's absence. If he puts up those types of numbers across a full season, he's got a real shot.

Ben Simmons, G, 76ers (+15000)

It's in vogue to bash Simmons after the pass-first guard passed up an open look under the basket in a critical moment of Game 7, which precipitated his temporary summer holdout with the 76ers. But the hate has gone too far, as we're now pricing one of the 30 best players in the league as a distant long shot with the 44th-shortest odds in the field.

This is the same player who finished 12th in MVP voting a season ago and was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year at a position that rarely earns that level of respect. He's also one of the best passers in the league, finished third among guards in rebounds (7.2) last season, and has the skill set to flourish in the right offense. The missing ingredient is, famously, a jump shot, which is traditionally the easiest area to improve with the right coaching.

If Simmons can force his way to a more conducive environment, he has the potential to vault into the upper tier of NBA stars - and after the turmoil of the past few months, that kind of leap should be enough to garner some MVP consideration. He's simply too talented to be dealing at this price.

C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at cjackson.cowart@thescore.com.

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NBA MVP best bets: Durant, George primed for career seasons
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