Bet these 5 long shots to win NBA MVP
After years of favorites cashing in the NBA MVP market, it looked like we may never see a true long shot win it. From the earliest available data in 2006-07 up until last season, only Derrick Rose (+2500) cashed at longer than 16-1 odds, and six of those 14 winners were preseason favorites with +275 odds or shorter.
Then Nikola Jokic crashed the party a year ago, hitting as a 25-1 dark horse with odds as high as 36-1 at theScore Bet in the weeks before the season. His unlikely MVP campaign raises the question: can a true "long shot" win this award after all?
It only takes one winner to make it worth chasing, and this year's wide-open field seems ripe for a long shot to breakthrough. Here are the full MVP odds at theScore Bet and five players worth betting to cash at long odds:
|Michael Porter Jr.||+24500|
|Kevin Porter Jr.||+35000|
Zion Williamson, F, Pelicans (+4000)
There's no question Williamson - the 2019 No. 1 pick who earned an All-Star nod at age 20 - has the talent to win MVP. His flashes as a sophomore suggest it's only a matter of time before he capitalizes on that immense ability across a full season.
A year ago, Williamson became just the fifth player since 1983 to post at least 10 games with 30 points on 70% shooting; three of the other four won MVP. He also tied Shaquille O'Neal for the most consecutive games with at least 20 points on 50% shooting. And in his third-to-last game of the season, he dropped 37 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists on 82.4% shooting - a stat line that no player has matched in the last two decades.
Williamson should get the credit if the Pelicans take an expected leap this season, which would help his case for a largely narrative-driven award. And if he keeps filling up box scores like he did a year ago, it'll be tough to deny him hardware.
Bradley Beal, G, Wizards (+5500)
Beal has been the NBA's second-leading scorer for two consecutive seasons, and the top scorer finished third in MVP voting in each of those years. Beal was left off both ballots, largely due to the dysfunction that is the Wizards franchise.
The nine-year veteran has been a mainstay in trade talks for years, and his MVP stock will immediately soar if he gets dealt to a contender. Even if he doesn't, another dynamic scoring season from Beal could be enough to finally catch voters' attention - especially if he leads Washington to a winning record in his first year without an All-Star running mate.
Jaylen Brown, G, Celtics (+10000)
There's long been a sense that Brown would eventually make the star leap the Celtics envisioned when they drafted him No. 3 overall in 2016. It looked like that may have finally happened early last season, when he averaged 27.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 steals on 53.1% shooting through the end of January.
Injuries crept up in February and hampered his play throughout the year, eventually costing him the end of his season by May and derailing a once-promising MVP campaign. Still, it's not hard to imagine another season like that after we saw a glimpse of it a year ago - especially if the payoff is 100-1.
Ben Simmons, G, 76ers (+15000)
I've been the conductor of the Simmons MVP hype train since shortly after last season when he was dealing at 200-1 at theScore Bet and as high as 300-1 at some other shops. That's simply a ridiculous price for the All-NBA star and former No. 1 pick, who finished 12th in MVP voting a year ago and is a jump shot away from superstardom.
His price has since dipped to 150-1 - which is still a screaming value - after he reportedly requested a trade in late August and said he wouldn't attend Philadelphia's training camp. The clock is ticking for the 76ers to deal Simmons to a team that will adequately utilize and mold an offense around his elite skill set - and for bettors to get value on an MVP-caliber player with a long-shot price.
Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (+22500)
Have we just completely written off Gobert as an NBA star because of a few lousy postseasons? This market isn't about betting on a title contender; it's about betting on elite regular-season impact, which is something Gobert has provided for the better part of five seasons.
The Jazz big man finished 10th in MVP voting last season and tied for 11th in 2018-19, and not just because of his defense. Sure, he's won three of the last four Defensive Player of the Year awards, but he's also ranked in the top three in true shooting percentage in five straight seasons - including two first-place finishes and a second-place finish in each of the last two years.
Fittingly, Gobert has placed in the top five in win shares in four of those five campaigns - only perennial MVP candidate James Harden can say the same - and ranked second behind Jokic in that stat in 2020-21. He's been dominant on both sides of the ball for years and, in the regular season, deserves far more love than these MVP odds suggest.