Two Western Conference superstars lead the way in the race to earn NBA MVP honors this season, with Houston Rockets guard James Harden holding a clear edge as the -300 betting favorite.
It has been a tremendous season for Harden, who has fueled the Rockets’ resurgence in the NBA’s Western Conference standings with 29.4 points per game and a league-leading 11.3 assists per game.
Harden’s play has shown steady improvement as the NBA season has progressed with the five-time NBA All-Star producing his best numbers in March, averaging 32.3 points and 7.4 assists in the first 12 games in the month and looks to lead the Rockets into a deep playoff run.
The former Arizona State product had a relatively quiet night last Sunday in Houston’s 137-125 win over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder as 5.5-point favorites, putting up 22 points and 12 assists against his former teammates. Harden has helped his team rise to third in the overall standings, and +1200 odds to win this year’s NBA championship.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook padded his league-leading points per game average with 39 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in Oklahoma City’s loss to the Rockets, and followed that up with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists to record yet another triple-double in Monday’s 92-91 win in Dallas.
The fact that Oklahoma City is in the middle of the pack in the West has hurt Westbrook’s chances in the NBA MVP odds. The triple-double machine is second on the list behind Harden at +150.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard leads the best of the rest on the NBA MVP odds at +1200, followed by four-time MVP winner LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers at +1600, while Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas rounds out the top five at +5000.
Leonard has averaged a career-best 26.0 points in 66 games this year, and has carried the load for a Spurs team that has been forced to contend with injuries to key personnel all season and an aging roster. Leonard is surely one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year. James has also recorded 26.0 points per game, and has remained a bright spot for the struggling Cavaliers this month, producing 27.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Boston’s Thomas trails only Westbrook and Harden at 29.1 points per game this season after cracking 30 points in a pair of Boston wins in late March, making him one of the primary reasons for the Celtics’ rise to the top of the NBA Eastern Conference standings.
Odds as of April 2nd, 2017