Published on April 13th, 2020 | by Landon Buford0
Where Does the MVP Race Stand During Shutdown?
With the NBA season on pause indefinitely due to COVID-19, there’s a very real chance that a 2020 champion won’t be crowned.
However, whether the season concludes or not, it’s likely that the Association will crown an MVP for the part of the regular season that has already been played.
The odds for NBA MVP that can be seen here shows that Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo has been heavily favored for months. The reigning champion opened as the +285 favorite during the offseason and steadily saw his odds improve once action started.
The Greek Freak was having a historically impressive campaign. Averaging 29.6 points 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game while recording a 58.3 effective field-goal percentage, Antetokounmpo had a Player Efficiency Rating of 31.63. That is tied for the sixth-best single-season PER ever. The only names ahead of him on the list at Basketball Reference are Wilt Chamberlain (three times), Michael Jordan (1987-88), and LeBron James (2008-09).
His dominance, coupled with the Bucks’ NBA-leading 53-12 record, led to Giannis’ MVP odds getting as short as -700 in early March.
The next-best odds at the time belonged to LeBron (+750), who had been making a push prior to the shutdown. He had upped his averages to 25.7 PPG, 10.6 APG, and 7.9 RPG, with a 55.5 EFG% and 26.0 PER. While those were still well behind Giannis, a few things were working in LeBron’s favor: (1) Antetokounmpo had missed some games in early March; (2) there were legitimate questions about how much he would play down the stretch with the Bucks holding a 6.5-game lead in the East; and (3) the Lakers had just beat the Bucks in a primetime showdown and were only two games back of Milwaukee in the loss column (49-14).
There was a scenario in which Antetokounmpo rested for much of March/April, the Bucks’ dropped back record-wise, and James led the Lakers to the top seed in the much tougher Western Conference. If that had happened, the MVP vote would have been extremely close, even if Giannis maintained his edge in individual statistics.
But that can’t happen now. It’s still possible that the NBA concludes the season with some sort of modified playoff format. The regular season, however, is over, and MVP is a purely regular-season award.
That’s why the sportsbooks that still have NBA MVP futures up generally have Giannis at around -1000 to win the award at this point. He was the most-efficient player in the league on the best team in the NBA. There’s nothing anyone can do now to change that.Tweet