NBA awards odds: Luka Doncic is the favorite to win MVP, but can he beat Giannis, LeBron and others?

Frank Schwab
·5 min read

Luka Doncic got everyone’s attention last season.

He had a big improvement for the Dallas Mavericks after a strong rookie season. He averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists. His buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs was perhaps the most iconic moment from the NBA’s Orlando bubble.

That’s why, even though Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off two straight MVPs and LeBron James just won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 21-year-old Doncic is the favorite to win MVP at BetMGM.

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates his game-winning three-point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during overtime of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
The Mavs' Luka Doncic celebrates his game-winning 3-point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during overtime of Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

The NBA’s regular season starts Tuesday, and BetMGM has offered odds on who will win most of the league’s major awards. The most surprising number of them all might be Doncic’s MVP odds.

What are the odds for NBA MVP?

Six players have better than 20-to-1 odds to win NBA MVP, led by Doncic and a couple of stars with multiple MVP awards already.

Doncic +400
Antetokounmpo +500
James +800
Anthony Davis +900
Steph Curry +1100
James Harden +1600

It seems odd that James or Antetokounmpo wouldn’t be on top of that list, but there are good reasons. With James, it seems likely that the Lakers will sit him more than usual, given that the NBA Finals ended in mid-October and the offseason was much shorter than usual.

Antetokounmpo might be the victim of voter fatigue. There have been only three players to win three MVPs in a row: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird. The only three-peat in the last 52 years is Bird, and his last MVP came 34 years ago. Antetokounmpo could be the best player in the league and still have a tough time winning. Voters generally look for new blood.

Not only will Antetokounmpo have to fight off Doncic, who came close to averaging 30-10-10 in his second season, there are plenty of reasonable picks for the award including some longer shots. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics (+2500) will have a bigger role, and a pair at 80-to-1 odds in Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans have the talent and star power to be great long-shot lottery tickets.

It could be one of the most intriguing NBA MVP races in a while.

What are the odds for the NBA’s other awards?

Here’s a glimpse at the odds for the NBA’s other major awards this season:

Rookie of the year: LaMelo Ball (+400), James Wiseman (+450) and Anthony Edwards (+450) are the favorites. But there are questions about all of them and this could be a year for a surprise rookie of the year winner.

Obi Toppin (+650) will get a push from the New York hype train if he’s good right away. And it’s not like there’s any reason for the Knicks to not play him full-time minutes. Another player who could put up nice numbers on a bad team is Tyrese Haliburton (+1600) of the Sacramento Kings. Haliburton has looked good in the preseason and like the Knicks with Toppin, there’s no real reason for the Kings to not give him a bunch of minutes.

Defensive player of the year: Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis are co-favorites at +300 and reigning DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo is next at +450. It’s tough for a guard to win but Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics (+2500) is intriguing. Smart has been on the NBA’s all-defensive first team two years in a row and he could see even more minutes with Kemba Walker’s knee injury.

Most improved player: If you can pick this award, you’ll have a nice payday. Nobody is lower than 12-to-1 odds. Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is the favorite at +1200. He was great in the bubble and has been a very good player for a few years so it’s hard to argue for him improving that much. His teammate, Michael Porter Jr., has been hyped since high school and might be better value at +1400.

Sixth man of the year: It’s a weird award to bet on because you need a player to be good, but not good enough to get into the starting lineup. Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz is the favorite at +700. Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat looks like a great pick at +1400 after how he played in the bubble, but he might find himself in the starting lineup most of the season.

Coach of the year: If you can figure out which team will play the highest above preseason expectations, you can guess coach of the year. New Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash is a fun co-favorite at +900, with Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns joining him. One name further down the list that checks some boxes is Stan Van Gundy of the New Orleans Pelicans at +2000. He is a known commodity, and if the Pelicans improve in Zion Williamson’s second season, Van Gundy could get plenty of credit in his first year with the team.

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