Top 3 MVP Favorites Entering Home Stretch

Mar 4, 2020; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after dunking against Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott (20) in the fourth quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not bury the lede: barring voter fatigue or a freak injury, the race for the 2020 NBA MVP is all but over.

Whoever is in charge of etching the name on the MVP plaque can – and probably should – start writing “Giannis Antetokounmpo.” Lord knows, it’s going to take long enough to put all 20 letters on there.

The reigning champion is running away with the MVP award, according to the latest NBA MVP odds. Two other players are still considered in the running, but only barely.

Here’s a look at the three remaining MVP contenders and their respective resumes.

No.3 – Luka Doncic, Guard, Dallas Mavericks

Last year’s third-overall draft pick is putting up ludicrous numbers for a second-year player. He’s averaging 28.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. His prodigious stats aren’t so-called “empty calories” either. He has led the Mavericks, a team that went 33-49 last year, to a 37-25 record so far, good for 7th in the hyper-competitive Western Conference.

But thanks to what the two players above him on this list have done, his odds to win MVP are a long +1000.

No.2 – LeBron James, Forward, Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James is proving that, when push comes to shove, he just might be the best basketball player in the world still.

Fully healthy (unlike his first season in Los Angeles), LeBron and the Lakers have dominated the West all season. They currently sit 5.5 games clear of the second-place Clippers and their +7.5 point differential is 1.2 points better than an other team in the conference.

LeBron’s sensational performance has been the catalyst for the Lakers’ resurgence. He’s only scoring 25.4 PPG (his lowest mark in five years), but he’s averaging 10.7 assists (the best of his career) and making everyone around him – Anthony Davis included – better and more efficient.

Any other year, LeBron’s statistics would be MVP-worthy. But this season, he finds himself at +775 odds, because Giannis is literally doing things no other player has done before.

No.1 Giannis Antetokounmpo, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks

When Giannis won his first MVP last year, he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game for a 60-win Bucks team. His Player Efficiency Rating was a league-leading 30.95, one of the highest ever in a single season.

This year, he’s making those numbers look pedestrian. Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 PPG, 13.8 RPG, and 5.8 APG while playing two fewer minutes per game. His PER is 31.9. If it stays there, it will literally be the highest PER any player has ever recorded in an NBA season.

Further cementing his case, Giannis’ Bucks are, by a wide margin, the best team in the league.

Currently 52-9 on the year, they still have an outside shot at reaching 70 wins. Their +12.3 point differential is 4.8 points better than the next-best team (LeBron’s Lakers). To put that in perspective, if you subtract 4.8 points from the Lakers’ point differential, you wind up down at +2.7, which would be 11th in the league.

In sum, Giannis is having arguably the best season in NBA history for one of the best teams in NBA history. Hence, his odds to win a second straight MVP award were about -700 the last time they were posted.

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