The All-Star Break has come and gone, and we are now well past the halfway point in the NBA regular season. At this point, the NBA MVP race seems like a foregone conclusion, but there are still things that could happen to disrupt this trend towards Giannis moving forward.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (-450) is a massive favorite right now, and there are plenty of good reasons for this. Giannis is the clear best player and superstar of the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the best record in the league. Giannis’ production this season has been incredible, specifically when you look at his production per minute.
While producing fantasy points doesn’t instantly mean that you are the best player in the NBA, it does mean that you are producing raw stats at a high rate. Giannis has averaged 10% better counting stats per minute than the second-best player in the league, James Harden.
Antetokounmpo also leads the league in player efficiency rating, and he leads the league in net rating by players who average over 30 minutes a game.
Giannis is the best player on the best team in the NBA, and this is going to be virtually impossible to overcome, especially with the raw statistics that he has put up as well. Giannis would have no problem improving his statistics if he wanted to with more minutes, but the Bucks play in so many blowouts that his stats underrepresent his production this season.
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Can Anyone Catch Giannis?
No. No one can just catch up to Giannis without some weird stuff happening, particularly injury. I guess if the Bucks fell off of a cliff to end the season, there would be some debate, but that just is not going to happen.
Giannis has been relatively healthy throughout his career. Still, a season-ending injury would likely open the door for a few other players to catch up to him, particularly if the Bucks still play this well without Antetokounmpo.
While I want nothing to do with betting on an injury, I do think that there are better numbers out there for the second tier for some guys compared to others. I really like LeBron (+900) if the winner is not Giannis for a few reasons.
James is currently on the team with the second-best record in the NBA, and the only way that LeBron catches Giannis is if the Lakers do end the season with the best record in the NBA.
James leads the NBA in assists, which will be a nice feather in his cap while the debate for MVP takes place, and I think that James has overshadowed Anthony Davis this season, even though Davis has been great.
Again, injuries aren’t something that I ever bet on happening, but to boost LeBron’s case, Anthony Davis has an extensive injury history, and if AD were to miss time, it will only help LeBron’s stats and eventually his case.
Anyone Else Out There?
Luka Doncic is +850, and maybe he could defeat James because of voter fatigue, but Doncic has missed eight games, and the Mavericks are not a top 8 team in the league in anyone’s mind. I think some people will like Doncic, but I don’t think that he has enough of a case at better odds than James.
Kawhi Leonard (+1500) and the Clippers have been great this season, but resting on back to backs will kill Kawhi’s MVP chances this season and possibly the rest of his career.
While he won’t miss that many games due to rest, I believe that the “rest” tag is something that most voters will be turned off by.
Damian Lillard (+5000) had a crazy stretch of games earlier this year, but he suffered an injury leading into the All-Star break, and I think that he would have to play like that all season long to get back into the conversation.
That is just not sustainable, and I don’t think that he will have the firepower to come close to the players ahead of him.