Community Shootaround: 2019/20 MVP Contenders

After Giannis Antetokounmpo beat out James Harden in a competitive two-man race for the 2018/19 NBA Most Valuable Player award, oddsmakers have made Antetokounmpo the favorite to earn MVP honors again in 2019/20.

BetOnline gives Antetokounmpo +350 odds to win the MVP award next season, meaning you’d have to risk $100 to win $350. Over at Bovada, Giannis is considered an even stronger frontrunner, with +300 odds.

Still, there are plenty of contenders who could spoil an Antetokounmpo repeat. Both Bovada and BetOnline give Stephen Curry the second-best MVP odds, with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard, and Joel Embiid rounding out the top seven candidates.

An MVP case often relies heavily on both team success and narrative, which helped Giannis win the award this past spring — the Bucks won a season-high 60 games thanks in large part to his excellence on both ends of the court. It’s easy to imagine making a similar case for the Greek Freak next year if Milwaukee once again finishes first in the East. On the other hand, if the Sixers grab the No. 1 seed, Embiid might have a stronger case.

In the West, Curry is a popular pick now that Kevin Durant is no longer in the picture, since the league’s premier sharpshooter will be back to carrying the Warriors‘ offensive load like he did during his previous two MVP seasons — his scoring responsibilities will be even greater with Klay Thompson on the shelf for much of the season. Harden, meanwhile, is a perennial contender for the award, and LeBron, AD, and Kawhi could be in the mix if one of the L.A. teams finishes atop the West.

Among the dark horse candidates for the award, my two favorite picks are Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard.

Jokic (+1500 on Bovada, +1600 on BetOnline) is the lone superstar on the Nuggets‘ roster, and after finishing second in the West last season, it wouldn’t be a total shock if Denver takes another step forward and finishes with atop the conference. Jokic, who averaged 20.1 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 7.3 APG in 2018/19, could theoretically approach a triple-double average and would have a strong case as the clear-cut best player on the West’s best team in that scenario.

Lillard (+2800 on Bovada, +2500 on BetOnline) would probably have to increase his numbers beyond his current career highs of 27.0 PPG and 6.9 APG and count on the Trail Blazers making a similar run to the top of the West in order to be considered a true MVP contender. But that’s not entirely out of the question. At age 29, he’s very much in his prime and may have one more leap left in him.

Finally, while I’m skeptical about his chances to legitimately compete for an MVP award this early in his career, it’s worth noting that Luka Doncic‘s MVP odds on BetOnline are +1600, compared to +5000 on Bovada — the latter is obviously a significant better value if you’re bullish on Doncic’s outlook and want to wager on his MVP chances.

What do you think? Who is your way-too-early pick for the 2020 NBA MVP award? Are there are any dark horses that you like as under-the-radar candidates?

Head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

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16 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: 2019/20 MVP Contenders

  1. Charkip

    If the NBA values defense more, I really like Rudy Gobert as a potential candidate. My dark horse candidate is Donovan Mitchell. Just seems like he’d be such a great fit with Conley

  2. acarneglia

    Lebron, AD, Giannis, Dame, Embiid, and Jokic are my MVP favorites. Kawhi, Mitchell, Kemba, Kyrie, and Blake are my dark horses. Vucevic, PG13, Beal, and Simmons are my third tier.

  3. hiflew

    In what world is Kawhi Leonard a “dark horse” candidate?

    Dark horses are generally completely out of nowhere picks. You have basically as the second tier. Vucevic, Blake, Mitchell, Beal, and Simmons would definitely qualify as dark horse picks, but the rest are legitimate contenders. Personally, my dark horse picks are Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker. They are in their 4th season and that is usually
    when players take a major step forward.
    Also are James Harden and Russell Westbrook not on your radar?

    • lambeau gang

      Pretty sure KAT and Booker are entering their 5th year in the league

      • hiflew

        You are correct. I meant they had been through 4 seasons. I mistyped. With the one and done guys, 4 complete seasons is the same as a 4 year college career and a rookie NBA season. So KAT or Booker going into their 5th year is about the same as a past generation player in their 2nd year. Maybe their 3rd. Either way, they are both primed for a breakout.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Obviously anyone who lists 15 candidates for MVP and deliberately leaves of Harden is simply being ignorant (or just a silly troll). The only true obstacle for him next season to continue being a candidate is having another star player on the team that’s still in his prime, unlike the over-the-hill Chris Paul who never won the award.

      That’s the same problem with players like LBJ, AD, Kawhi, and PG13. Although Harden is clearly still the top dog in Houston, it’s not really as clear with the two LA teams which star player will be the alpha. Of course with the case of the Lakers there’s no way that LeBron will swallow his pride and allow AD to take the reigns.

      So Giannis, Curry, and Harden should be the favorites with Embiid, Jokic, and Lillard as the second group of players with any realistic chance of winning the award.

  4. DynamiteAdams

    I like Jokic, Harden or Giannis right now. Steph is a good pick too but I feel like the NBA doesn’t want to give him the award again. If Embiid plays above 70 games and leads the Sixers to a 1 or 2 seed he should be in the running too.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      All 4 of them are solid candidates. Condidering the fact that Harden has finished either first or second in the MVP race 4 of the past 5 seasons shows how foolish it is to think he won’t be one of the finalists again next year. And you could also make the same argument that they don’t want to give Harden the award again just like with Curry.

  5. The names are those… The real DARK horses are from dark horse teams… So Utah isn t a d.h… Betting on Donovan would be not so strange…

    NOLA is a real underdog… So…
    Miami the same…But i trust more Brooklyn

  6. Tazza

    Think Giannas, LeBron and Embid have a good chance at MVP. Giannas to lead his team hopefully to the finals, LeBron will have a really good come back year and help push the Lakers into the playoffs, Embid can be a force both ends on his day is a top 3 defender, best post player and has got a good midrange and 3 ball.

    Curry if he can lead GSW to the playoffs without Thompson and with a new couple players in Dlo and WCS would be a good bet also, but I think GSW struggle on D and he doesn’t carry them. I think Kawhi is close but the Clippers have a strong team with Beverly, George, Williams and Harrell with him which makes it harder for him to stand out as he isn’t a huge point scorer either. Jokic doesn’t play much defence at all and I don’t think he will be in contention. Don’t think Harden does great in MVP race now with Russ next to him.

    Mitchell and Doncic could be a young pair that do well and get close to contention. My dark horse would be Lillard. Think he has an amazing year and goes to another level and averages just over 30. Think people will be surprised by Portland, they usually play good in the regular season. Think Hassan Whiteside will surprise people too, in 16/17 season he averaged 17, 14 and 2 blocks. The year before he averaged almost 4 blocks a game. He will play good minutes and be a force and suit playing with Lillard

  7. x%sure

    Jokic, Davis, Lebron, Giannis.

    Curry and Harden can hardly improve and have already won it. Embiid doesn’t play a lot of games. Lilliard has less support and Kawhi might have too much. Thompson & George start with injuries. Russ has to find a role. Butler could be 5th; Murray & Olidipo could get points.

    • Buckman

      Don’t forget Hardin is perfecting a one-legged step back 3 that looks like a travel move!

      • x%sure

        It does sound dangerous, given Harden’s ability to push the envelope of legality.

  8. IslandFlava

    Embiid, Giannis, Jokic, LBJ & AD.
    KAT is in there with them… but Minny ain’t gonna win enough for him to be there.
    Harden & Westbrook will see how they work together, probably will neutralize each other.
    PG13 & Kawhi probably won’t play enough & might neutralize each other anyway.
    Dark horses could be Simmons & Doncic.

  9. Simple Fan

    I like Booker or even Ayton. That’s(unlikely but) because I think it just really means a lot about whose way with competition is it. I can see all the familiar figures and who knows what is going to happen, yet for sure a star will come forth to finally have his prize. It’s going to be excellent. It could be Mitchell or Gobert as surprise candidates!

    I’m not a guy who thinks Simmons or Doncic’d win the award. I think they could, though.

    Kanter’s my dark horse. He was excellent in the WCF and just has no attitude. Said he wanted all-star last year and just didn’t get it.

    Way-too-early is too early to root for who I want. Look out though for Rubio, James, & Davis.

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