As with everything in life, things change! And that’s certainly a regular thing in sports. Those predictions that we make at the start of seasons almost always undergo some sort of transformation as all is said and done, for better or for worse. This is what makes sports betting such a fun (or painful) experience for us.
Most teams have hit the 41 game mark as we approach mid-season. With that, it seems like a good time to revisit NBA awards races and take a look at all the changes that have taken place since the start of the season.
All odds via Tipico Sportsbook
Rookie of the Year
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Rookie of the Year was to be a two-man race throughout the NBA season before kickoff. These thoughts were reflected in sports betting where Jalen Green (+210) and Cade Cunningham (+240) entered the season with the shortest odds for the honor. The thought process behind this likely assumed that both guards would have the ball in their hands at all times while leading their bad basketball teams.
It didn’t necessarily go as planned. Cunningham is behaving like a No.1 overall pick and leading his team (as expected), but he missed the first part of the season with an injury and fell behind in the race. His current line at +450 gives Cade the third best rating at Tipico Sportsbook. Green’s (sixth best) odds of +4000 are a combination of injury, inefficient play, and simply having to share the ball with so many other players on his team.
While Cunningham’s odds are now the third shortest, Scottie Barnes has worked his way from preseason No.5 (+1200) to No.2 with +330 odds. His transition to NBA play is going much easier and faster than anyone could have imagined, which is why he is averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a forward. starting point for the Raptors.
Evan Mobley leads the race at -130 to win the award. He’s that rare rookie with good numbers (14.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 blocks per game) and having a huge impact on a team in the playoffs. He mostly makes comparisons to Kevin Garnett for his offensive skills given his size and unique ability to change the game on defense. Mobley’s case for the price is difficult to argue at this point. He’s already so good.
Coach of the Year
(AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh)
Tipico Sportsbook has seen this Coach of the Year race unfold a little differently than it has been so far. Their preseason favorites Steve Nash (+750) and Erik Spoelstra (+750) both have odds of +1500, making him the sixth shortest in the NBA.
The Nets are a team led by superstars, so it’s understandable that Nash doesn’t get the credit he sometimes deserves, but this isn’t a time he deserves a lot of praise. The fall of Spoelstra is difficult to understand. The Heat, despite the constant injuries of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, are in third place in the East and just 2.5 games behind the first. His team’s performance is just being overlooked due to the hot starts from Golden State and Phoenix. Chicago’s rise to the top of the Eastern Conference, meanwhile, is taking the league by storm.
Monty Williams’ Suns are tied for the league’s best record, which is why his +380 odds are good for the third shortest. There’s nothing too flashy about the Suns, they’re just following up one great season with another. Between the game of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, the Suns will remain in contention for the best NBA record when all is said and done.
The Golden State Warriors share the same best league record (30-9) with the Suns. Steph is having one of his less stellar seasons, but the Dubs are playing well thanks to their best defense in the league. Steve Kerr has a combination of formerly washed role players, unproven young players and notoriously bad defenders who buy and play formidable defense. He deserves a ton of credit for what the Warriors do, so don’t be shocked to see that he holds a share of the shortest Coach of the Year rating (+330).
I mentioned that the Bulls (26-11) have taken the league by storm and that mostly got praise for DeMar DeRozan, who is playing fantastically. But Billy Donovan is training his cue this year and that is reflected in his +330 chances of winning Coach of the Year. It might be wise to bet on Donovan now if you think the Bulls can stay No.1 in the East throughout the regular season.
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Defensive Player of the Year
(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
A few of the preseason’s preseason favorites for the Defensive Player of the Year award are absolutely ravaged by injury. Bam Adebayo hasn’t played basketball since November 29 and saw his chances of winning the award drop to +8,000 at Tipico. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis’ prolonged absence puts his DPOY rating at +20,000, essentially removing him from the race.
Other great men still control the race, as usual. Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1200) is having another great year, but it appears the national media are not supporting his DPOY campaign as much as in the past. And this is because of two things: 1) The fatigue of voters? Maybe Giannis, fresh out of a Finals MVP, isn’t so exciting. 2) Two other guys just have more impactful seasons as defenders.
The first is Rudy Gobert. Already a recipient of three DPOY awards, he could very well be looking for a fourth if his second-best +280 rating at Tipico indicates anything. I just saw the Jazz drop 126 points to the Detroit Pistons’ nine wins with Gobert in health and safety protocols. If that isn’t enough to show you its impact, I don’t know what it is.
Draymond Green is the only other player who is even expected to be in the argument alongside Gobert. From the start, he’s helped make this Warriors team the best defensive team in the NBA. He continues to do so by sharing the field with former veterans, young players and proven bad defensemen. Dray’s -150 odds add up and I would put money on those. He appears to be a lock for his second DPOY award.
Most Improved Player
(Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
Honestly, we were all wrong on this one. So I can’t blame Tipico or any other sportsbook for their wild pre-season showings. Jordan Poole entered as the favorite (+600) and now has the sixth shortest odds at +3000. And you know what? He has been very good this season. There really are a number of guys out there who are having phenomenal seasons and catapulting their names to the top of the list of Most Improved Players.
Tipico’s pre-season Top 3 is no longer intact. Michael Porter Jr.’s season ended when he got injured a few weeks after the start of the campaign and Kevin Porter Jr. isn’t taking off like most had hoped. We talked about Poole’s chances.
Instead, a new and worthy Top 3 is forming.
With the third shortest odds we have Dejounte Murray (+900). He’s the winner if I had a choice. Murray is emerging as the leader of Spurs early in their post-championship era and coach Pop has done nothing but sing Murray’s praises throughout the season. If that wasn’t enough, Murray leads his team in points (18.4), assists (8.9), steals (2.1) and is second in rebounds per game (8.2) while easily transforming into one of the best two-way guards. in the NBA.
Miles Bridges’ +350 odds are second best at Tipico, but his campaign has cooled off considerably since his hot start to the season. Still, a good start will go a long way when it comes to grabbing people’s attention. With 19.5 points and 7.3 rebounds, Bridges has certainly improved from a season ago and is rightly on the shortlist of names in the MIP race.
Still, it seems the lock for this price is Ja Morant (-105). He’s got the numbers (24.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists), improved three-point shooting (38.3% vs. 30.3) and enough winning strengths and buckets to comfortably secure its place at the top. Add to that that the Grizzlies are sort of a half game on the third and you could easily make MVP arguments for Morant. I don’t think anything is stopping Ja from winning the MIP Trophy at the end of the season and no other player should exceed his place for the best odds.
Most Valuable Player
(Photo by Al Bello/.)
The MVP award gets the most hype and provides the most validation for superstar players as their resumes grow. We all know it’s not who is most valuable to their team. Rather, it is an award given to the best player of the season.
Tipico’s top 3 odds are almost identical to what they were at the start of the season. One huge difference is the demise of Luka Doncic, whose once-best in the league +380 odds have dropped to +6000. How did it happen? Doncic started the season shooting horribly on the pitch and hardly looking like the player we know. He later noted that he was not in the greatest shape and that his body and his game were affected because of it. He missed weeks of action due to an ankle injury and is now catching up.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo were the other pre-season favorites and still have the weakest odds at Tipico.
Antetokounmpo’s +650 odds are great, but it doesn’t look like the MVP is actually on the line for him this season. Her numbers are actually up from a season ago, but her team don’t have the kind of success they usually have.
The same can be said for Kevin Durant. He deserves his +210 MVP ratings and is possibly the best player in the NBA. His nets are starting to slip, however, which is detrimental to his record for the price. Brooklyn will need a second-half push to keep a top-two seed in the East and help KD pass Steph for the best odds.
Whether you agree or not, Steph is the favorite MVP. At least he’s at Tipico Sportsbook. The team’s success is the main reason for his +140 rating as his individual performance this season falls short of his previous four or five years. This is where the “real value” argument kicks in. His presence alone absorbs so much defensive attention and opens things up for the Warriors on offense. Don’t expect this to change. The national media can’t get enough of Steph either, so believe his MVP tale isn’t going anywhere.
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A mid-season check-in on all NBA awards races