NBA MVP Odds: Is Anthony Davis Emerging as a Dark Horse Candidate?
A year ago James Harden arguably got robbed in not winning the NBA MVP award. His numbers weren’t quite as historic as Russell Westbrook’s, but he put the Houston Rockets on his shoulders and even ousted Westbrook and the Thunder in the playoffs.
His numbers weren’t that far off, either. Westbrook put up the first triple-double the NBA had seen since Oscar Robertson accomplished the seemingly impossible feat back in 1961. Westbrook did so while pushing the Thunder to the playoffs despite losing superstar small forward Kevin Durant, too.
The ammo was there for Westbrook, yet it still felt like Harden was shortchanged.
Not only did Harden post a very similar stat line (29-11-8), but he dished out more assists and despite being in a very similar situation to Westbrook, he brought his team to new heights.
OKC struggled to the 6th seed in the Western Conference, while Harden helped the Rockets to 55 wins and his conference’s third best mark.
An argument could have been made that despite Westbrook’s triple-double run, he wasn’t the real MVP.
This year, it’s even more obvious.
Westbrook’s numbers are down, Harden has the Rockets looking like the best team in the league and he’s finally looking like a lock to win league MVP.
NBA MVP Odds
The top NBA betting sites aren’t disagreeing with that, either. Bovada and just about everywhere else pegs Harden as the easy favorite and it’s not all that close.
LeBron James has been the only real roadblock all year long, per the top NBA sportsbooks. He’s still a distant second in the MVP running.
Russell Westbrook hasn’t even been involved in serious debates, while others like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry just don’t have compelling arguments.
Their numbers simply aren’t as good, they have too much impressive talent on their rosters or their teams aren’t where a legit MVP contender’s should be.
One guy that may have an interesting argument and has recently been added to the mix for bettors (+2800 at Bovada), however, is New Orleans Pelicans star big man, Anthony Davis.
The Brow’s Case
For much of the 2017-18 season, the man known as The Brow wasn’t a serious contender.
Having DeMarcus Cousins healthy and on his team kept him from putting up the eye-popping numbers he probably needed, while the Pels were a fringe playoff threat at best.
It’s crazy how just a few weeks can change things dramatically.
Since Boogie went down with a ruptured Achilles, Davis has taken over in New Orleans. Davis has ridden some insane performances to second place in the NBA for scoring (28.1 points per game) and has fueled a crazy run (eight straight wins) that now has New Orleans holding onto the #4 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Brow isn’t just jacking up shots blindly or getting a ton of help, either. He’s playing efficient basketball while also getting a hand in other meaningful stats like rebounds and blocks.
During this eight-game run, Davis is playing at a borderline superhuman level, averaging an absurd 39 points, 15 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.5 steals per contest. That stretch has included four games of 40+ points and one of 53 points.
While there is a valid argument that this production both has come against less than stellar competition and isn’t sustainable, these are numbers that are impossible to ignore.
Whether you’re grading him by his season averages or his recent hot stretch, Davis is making a massive impact at both ends of the floor and helping his team win.
Davis could have enjoyed an even bigger season if Cousins hadn’t been around, too. Boogie was responsible for massive numbers (25 points and 12 rebounds per game) himself, which goes to show just how much Davis was held back and how big of a star he had to help replace.
Through it all, Davis has put up numbers that are comparable to his career best and he’s actually been more efficient than ever. Despite increased volume and added pressure, The Brow has shot a career best .536% from the floor and .345% from long range.
While this season is turning into one of The Brow’s best ever, it’s coming in a year where he’s flat out carrying the Pels to the playoffs. In fact, as the season winds down, New Orleans is increasingly looking like one of the better teams in the Western Conference.
That wouldn’t be possible without Davis and his ridiculous contributions. New Orleans is sitting in the 4th spot of the Western Conference playoffs and only rising. If all goes well, The Brow could push the Pels as high as 3rd before the season is up.
Can The Brow Win?
The value with Anthony Davis to win NBA MVP (+2800 at Bovada) is staggering. At this point, he’s someone to, at the very worst, root for and is increasingly a more viable bet than LeBron James.
That means two things; as things stand he’s an elite value wager and these odds won’t stay this gaudy for long.
Eventually the Pelicans will either hit a wall and regress, or they’ll break through to the #3 seed and potentially start threatening for a higher spot. I don’t think that happens, but if the Pelicans finish with a top-5 seed, Davis is going to look like a very interesting bet.
The point is, you either need to attack this bet with the idea that Davis will keep trucking on and the Pels will keep finding success, or you need to just bet harder than ever on Harden.
Still, whether you like Harden here or not, it’s tough to look past what The Brow is accomplishing right now.
The main reason why is the sheer difficulty of what he’s doing.
Not only are his current numbers ridiculous, but he has an otherwise overlooked team looking like a very tough out right now.
By the time the year is up, the volume he’s working with could vault him past James Harden in the scoring department.
The Pelicans aren’t about to trump the Rockets or Warriors, but if New Orleans caps the regular season with the third best record in the Western Conference, bettors have some serious thinking to do.
After all, Harden had similar numbers and a better team showing than Westbrook a year ago and he got hosed. As deserving as he is, it’s entirely possible something similar happens again this year.
The Brow has the numbers, he has his team in the best position he’s ever had them in during his career and he offers elite betting value. I’m not saying he’s a safe bet at all, but in an otherwise locked down race with one clear favorite, he’s a very intriguing one.