| Sun 15/10/2017 - 05:45 EDT

NBA MVP Odds: Who Are the Dark Horse MVP Candidates?

NBA MVP Odds: Who Are the Dark Horse MVP Candidates?

Top Dark Horse NBA MVP Candidates

LeBron James (+475) and Kawhi Leonard (+475) are the favourites to win the 2017-18 NBA season's Most Valuable Player award with former teammates Kevin Durant (+650) and last year's MVP, Russell Westbrook (+700) not too far behind.

These four represent the top four teams expected to contend for the title: the Cavaliers, Spurs, Warriors, and Thunder, respectively. But add a fifth team here: the Boston Celtics.   

The storied franchise shook up the NBA's landscape by engineering a trade that swiped Kyrie Irving from the Cavs for Isaiah Thomas (and others). This trade not only gives the Celtics a proven winner and bonafide closer but it also adds a dark horse MVP candidate in Irving. 

The four-time All-Star is +1300 to win MVP but is coming off his best offensive year. Irving scored 25.2 points a game at a 47.3 clip, both career-highs and this is with LeBron James as the team's alpha dog. With the Celtics, Irving is the main stud with only Gordon Hayward as the other offensive threat. Irving's production should increase across the board and another top finish for the Celtics could mean he gets his first MVP award.

Here's a look at other dark horse MVP candidates... 

Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Odds to Win MVP: +3400

It's amazing to see KAT get snubbed for the All-Star game last season given how he improved on every stat but his blocks. Towns averaged 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds on 54.2% shooting but the supporting cast just wasn't there. With significant additions to the Wolves in Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Jamal Crawford, Towns will be the focal point of a team that can finally return to the playoffs.

The last time the Wolves won 50-plus games, their franchise big man, Kevin Garnett, won the MVP. History could repeat itself. Even if Towns's numbers take a bit of a hit especially his scoring, a lot of onus is put on team performance when considering MVP. Should Towns win the MVP, he'll break Derrick Rose's record as the youngest winner and this is sexy narrative only helps his chances.

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)

Odds to Win MVP: +4100

Losing Chris Paul does two things for the Clippers:

  1. They can now implement more open ball movement without his ball-dominant playmaking.
  2. It will push franchise player Blake Griffin to the stratosphere. Injuries aside, Griffin is now primed to make a run for MVP. Griffin has evolved from a high-flyer dunker to a more well-rounded forward who's also begun developing his long-range shooting. 

With DeAndre Jordan anchoring the middle and a platoon between Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic at point guard, Griffin will have more opportunities to be the offense's focal point.

His points, assists, and three-pointers should get a slight bump and if the Clippers win 50 or more games he'll be a solid MVP candidate. 

My Team's Next MatchToronto Raptors

Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)

Odds to Win MVP: +4100

There is no shortage of things to talk about with the colourful Sixers big man. Embiid has only played 31 games in three seasons yet managed to land a ridiculous 148 million dollar contract and is already an MVP candidate. The Sixers had a net rating of +3.2 with him on the floor and -7.9 with him off the floor. Their offensive rating increased by 2.2 and their defensive rating by 9 points. 

Embiid's per 36 minutes average is also insane: 28.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 3.5 blocks, 1.2 steals, and 1.6 three-pointers made on 46% shooting. Bill Self, Embiid's coach at Kansas also remarked how swiftly he learned the game going from a project to a bonafide star almost overnight. The sky's the limit for Embiid and should he play at least 60 games with the Sixers winning over 40, he'll easily be in MVP talks.

NBA Betting Lines

Picking outright winners on NBA games is bread-and-butter of basketball wagering but as MVP props here show, there's plenty of action besides straight-up bets. Canadians have complete access to online sportsbooks which offer a wide array of betting options not just for the NBA but for every beloved Canadian sport like the NHL and CFL. These books also offer signup bonuses up to $250 making them perfect for casual bettors looking to make a quick buck or two. 

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