The 2020/21 NBA season has been a rollercoaster so far with teams navigating Covid as well as player injuries. The Memphis Grizzlies lead all teams with 6 games that have been postponed, but the season goes on and we have been treated to some exciting action.
We’re now almost 30 games into the shortened 72 game NBA season, making it a good time to take an early look at who will win the two biggest player awards Rookie Of The Year and Most Valuable Player.
There are have been some interesting and unexpected trends to the start of the season:
- The Knicks are currently sitting in 6th spot in the East
- Last years finalists the Miami Heat are in 10th on a disappointing 11-16 record
- Utah is top of the NBA on a 23-5 record with no signs of slowing down, currently riding an 8-game winning streak
- Portland are top 4 in the West and on a 5 game winning streak with a 17-10 record despite missing two of their key starters McCollum and Nurkic
- Phoenix (5th, 17-10) and San Antionio (6th, 16-11) are above Denver on the standings, and Dallas, a team that many believed would put it all together this year, is all the way down in 10th on a 13-15 record.
Leading each major statistical category right now:
- Scoring: Bradley Beal (33.1ppg)
- Rebounds: Clint Capela (14.0rpg)
- Assists: James Harden (11.3apg)
- Blocks: Myles Turner (3.5bpg)
- Steals: Jrue Holiday (1.9spg)
- FG%: Richaun Holmes (64.8% fg)
- 3pt made: Steph Curry (5.0/gm)
Most Valuable Player (MVP)
Lebron James @2.65 (fav)
Lebron is having a huge season so far on one of the top teams in the NBA at 22-7 (2nd in West). This is despite missing Anthony Davis every other game, and there’s news that he will be held out until after the All Star Break due to an achilles injury, meaning Lebron will carry even more of the load and put up some gaudy numbers in the process.
He certainly ticks all the boxes for MVP consideration. Stats-wise he’s right there, with averages of 25.7ppg, 8.2rpg, 7.9apg while shooting above 50% from the floor and hitting a career high 2.5 threes per game.
The narrative is there, with him defying age and leading the Lakers to one of the top records in the league.
If he keeps doing what he’s doing and the Lakers keep winning he will be hard to top.
Jokic is having the best statistical season of any player this year. If the Nuggets were top 2 in the West he’d be the betting favourite right now. He leads the league in PER, and Basketball-Reference gives him a 45.1% probability of winning the MVP (Lebron is next highest on 12.5% in their prediction).
He’s averaging close to a triple double with 27.1ppg, 11.3rpg, 8.6apg, and shoowing a stellar 57% from the floor. The man does it all.
At $6.00 there’s some good value to be had betting on Jokic, Particularly if the Nuggets can put it together and go on a run to get into the top 3 or maybe even top 4 spots in the West.
Embiid is the 2nd favourite in betting, and while I can see the appeal (leading the team that is 1st in the East) I don’t feel like it’s a worthwhile bet taking Embiid.
The numbers are impressive: 29.6ppg, 10.8rpg, 54.3% fg and solid defensive stats, but he carries some injury risks, and he’s not carrying his team single handedly like some of the other players seem to be.
His teammate Ben Simmons is having a really strong season as well, and is coming off a 42-9-12 game and has stated he wants to be more aggressive on offense. There’s a chance that his usage increases and he takes some of the shine away from Embiid.
I still think Lillard is a great value bet as a darkhorse. He is playing through injuries and leading the Blazers with 29.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 7.4apg, and as good as those numbers sound it almost feels disappointing that he isn’t dropping 35ppg right now – it feels like he has another gear he can kick it up to.
His play late last season as well as in the bubble, showed he can electrify fans and fill up the boxscore like nobody else in the NBA. If the Blazers maintain their top 4 spot in the West and Lillard’s individual numbers continue to climb, he will start to get more of a mention in the MVP discussion.
At $26.0 he’s definitely worth a sneaky bet!
Rookie Of The Year (ROY)
Lamelo Ball @1.25 (fav)
Lamelo was my pick prior to the season starting, and it’s looking very strong right now at almost unbackable odds of $1.25
I’ve never been the type of punter that would lock in a long futures bet at such low odds unless I felt it was a 100% certainty. And at this stage of the season with 40+ games to go, there’s too much risk to lock in a big bet on him at a short price.
If the season were to end right now, he’d have it in the bag. Not only because of his individual numbers and accolades (he’s now the youngest player in NBL History as well as NBA History to record a triple double), but also because Charlotte is currently winning more games than most people expected them to, and they’re in a playoff position.
He’s joined the starting lineup finally, and looks like a safe bet to put up great numbers on a young team. Current averages: 14.6ppg, 6.2rpg, 6.1apg, 1.5stl, 1.8 threes
Haliburton has quickly endeared himself to his coach and teammates and has quickly become a large part of the Kings rotation. The #12 pick out of Iowa State has lifted his game month by month, and in 8 February games so far he is averaging 15.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.9apg. One thing he has going for him over Lamelo is his efficiency. He is turning the ball over a lot less (1.6TO per game vs 2.7 for Lamelo) and his shooting numbers are far superior 50/44/82 vs 44/35/80.
If the Kings can also make a playoff spot and Haliburton cracks the starting lineup with an increased role down the stretch, Haliburton may draw more votes from those that take player efficiency into consideration.
This may be a bit of a longshot, but I believe there’s some value in backing Edwards at this price. If voters prioritise winning, then he will likely be out of consideration with the Timberwolves looking like they’re on the verge of tanking to protect their chances of landing a top 3 pick (if it’s outside of the top 3 it goes to the Warriors).
So why is Edwards worth looking at, above a player like James Wiseman? (currently @15.0 odds).
Edwards is in a unique position in that he is primed for a big run offensively. D’Angelo Russell is now sidelined semi-longterm with an injury, which opens up a lot more playing time and usage to go Edwards’ way.
His per 36 minute averages are around 19-5-3 and in recent games he has been playing at that level fairly consistently. In his last 14 games he has only scored in single digits once (9 points vs OKC).
His standout game vs Lebron and the Lakers yesterday reall show his potential now that Russell is out: 28pts, 7rebs, 5ast, 1stl, 2blk, 5 threes and 10-20fgs in 34 minutes.
If Edwards can finish the season averaging 20-23ppg, even on a bad team like Minnesota, he will get some attention from voters, so at 17.0 odds there is some massive value here at PlayUp!
All prices in this article are up to date as of 11am on 18th Feb 2021, Click Here to see the latest Rookie Of The Year odds at PlayUp!
Best of Luck on your NBA bets!