NBA Betting: Stephen Curry Favored for MVP?
We’ve heard a lot about Russell Westbrook lately. He’s had a tremendous season, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the verge of clinching a playoff spot despite injuries to Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Westbrook has also put up seven triple-doubles since the All-Star break. But is he really in the mix now for winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award?
Yes, but just barely. Here’s how the 2014-2015 MVP odds looked on the futures market at Bovada as we went to press:
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors 1/4
- James Harden, Houston Rockets 3/1
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder 5/1
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers 25/1
Judging by these odds, it appears the MVP race has already been decided. We’re used to seeing one person break away from the pack and carry short odds going into the last few weeks of the regular season. This award is voted on by members of the media, and they talk openly about who they think should win. It’s part of the national basketball conversation. But we haven’t heard much talk about Stephen Curry lately.
East Coast Bias
It’s easy to overlook what’s going on in Oakland. The Warriors (61-13 SU, 45-28-1 ATS at press time) took an early stranglehold on the Western Conference, and have already clinched first place with eight games left to go. There hasn’t been a lot of drama with the Dubs, and since they’re a west coast team not based in Los Angeles, the media has to find other things to talk about.
Westbrook is that guy right now. With Durant out of the picture because of the lingering Jones fracture in his right foot, Westbrook has had to carry more of the offensive burden for the Thunder. All those triple-doubles are the result. But while Westbrook has certainly elevated his game and helped put Oklahoma City back in the playoff picture, his level of play hasn’t been as high as Curry’s this year.
For evidence, let’s go to the advanced stats. Here are the Real Plus-Minus (RPM) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR) numbers for all four MVP candidates; all stats are before Wednesday’s games, as per ESPN.
Stephen Curry 9.16 RPM; 17.60 WAR
James Harden 8.66 RPM; 18.30 WAR
Russell Westbrook 6.79 RPM; 11.66 WAR
LeBron James 7.73 RPM; 14.15 WAR
Here we see Westbrook in fourth place in both categories, and that’s fourth place out of the four players on this list. He’s actually seventh overall in RPM and eighth in WAR. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans have better stats than Westbrook, especially at the defensive end, where Westbrook is substandard at minus-0.64 DRPM.
Of course, voters tend to overlook defense, which is why players like Golden State’s Draymond Green (5.97 RPM, 12.29 WAR) aren’t in the MVP conversation. But voters also prefer to give the MVP honors to players whose teams win the most games. That’s ultimately why it looks like Curry will take home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy this year.