LeBron Is MVP Favorite, But Book Exposed On Durant
There may be five players per side on an NBA court in each game, but the Association is by far the most individual-driven of the major American team sports. And it shows in which players are annually named the NBA Most Valuable Players as only the true superstars take home that award.
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The NBA MVP has been handed out since the 1955-56 season and it has been won either by a current Hall of Famer or a future one (barring injury). Major League Baseball, the NFL and NHL might have one-year MVP "wonders" but that simply doesn't happen in the NBA.
There is no argument that Miami's LeBron James is the best current player in the league and he is the reigning NBA MVP, winning his third Maurice Podoloff Trophy in the past four seasons (Podoloff was the first commissioner/president of the NBA). LeBron had arguably his best season last year in winning his first NBA title.
James shot a career-high 53.1 percent from the field and career-high 36.2 percent from 3-point range in averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds (tied career high) and 6.2 assists for the Heat. He nearly singlehandedly led Miami out of a 3-2 East Finals hole against Boston and then won the Finals MVP award as the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.
James is the 9/5 favorite at the book to win his fourth MVP, which would leave him two shy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record six (Michael Jordan won five). However, the book isn't exposed on LeBron. It's not that bettors aren't backing him but it's more the short odds.
The Thunder's Kevin Durant, the three-time NBA scoring champion, finished runner-up to LeBron for last season's MVP award and Durant is runner-up to James with 15/4 odds to win it this season. Durant led the NBA by averaging 28.0 points per game and set career highs in rebounds (8.0), assists and blocks (1.2) per game in 2011-12. The book is highly exposed on Durant.
For all his brilliance, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant has won just a single MVP award, in 2007-08. Kobe finished fourth in the voting last season after he averaged 27.9 points per game, his most since his MVP season. Bryant led the NBA in scoring most of last season until Durant passed him at the end. The book isn't exposed on Bryant to win MVP at 12/1.
Dwight Howard joins Kobe on the Lakers this season after an offseason four-team trade got Howard out of Orlando. Howard has won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award three times and has led the league in rebounding four times, including last season. But the MVP tends to go to scorers these days and Howard has never averaged more than 22.9 points per game. Howard is 16/1 to win MVP and the book is exposed there. No true center has won the MVP since Shaquille O'Neal in 1999-2000 (Tim Duncan did in 2002 & 2003, but he also played forward). Of course Shaq also left Orlando for L.A. like Howard.
The book is also exposed three point guards: the Clippers' Chris Paul at 20/1 (he was third in last year's MVP voting), the Nets' Deron Williams at 25/1 and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo at 28/1. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, the 2010-11 MVP, is a betting option at 50/1 despite the fact Rose will miss at least half the season - and possibly all of it - as he recovers from a torn ligament suffered in last year's playoff opener.
The book also was exposed in Minnesota power forward Kevin Love at 20/1. However, he has dropped to 30/1 because Love broke his hand last week and likely will miss the first month of the season. Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds last season. The Timberwolves also will be without point guard Ricky Rubio (500/1) until at least December as he works his way back from a serious knee injury suffered last March.
Among the long shots, the book is exposed on Rubio, Boston's Kevin Garnett (500/1), the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (350/1) and Oklahoma City's James Harden (350/1), the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
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