NBA Player Award Opportunities After Active Trade Deadline Day


From time to time, we let y’all know what makes sense from an NBA futures wagering perspective, and today is one of those days, because a crazy trade deadline just happened.

Yesterday, we highlighted some team futures that make sense.

Today, we look at the individual NBA award player markets that are available to New Yorkers who travel out of state to place those wagers (New York law forbids player award futures.)

To begin, one very important thing to keep in mind: A majority of NBA awards voters make up their minds in early April. So some of these award races are more fluid than you may realize. And since we are in early February, there is plenty of time for minds to be changed.

So let’s have at it. For every wagering “expert”  who tells you all the races are effectively over, there are sharps out there who look at today as a value opportunity day. So today, we think like them.

First, one glance at what the MVP field looks like. And remember, different sportsbooks have different odds:

The Case Against Nikola Jokic

The Serbian superstar put up a triple-double in the first half two nights ago, the second time he has done that in his career. But his team also lost last night to the Orlando Magic, and MVPs usually do not let that happen to their teams. In order for him to capture the award, voters will have to make him the first three-time consecutive winner since Larry Bird in the mid-1980s. Some voters will refuse to do it because they have been covering the league since Bird played, and they are predisposed to not equate anyone with Bird. These voters are dinosaurs, and in the NBA, dinosaurs are not extinct. Jokic is -135 this morning (Friday). That implies he is a near-lock. He is not.

So who else offers value? Joel Embiid of Philadelphia is now the +350 second choice, and you could have had him a week ago at +1200. He gets to feast on the Nets and the Knicks this weekend, and a smart wager to make with a buddy is whether by Monday morning he is in a virtual dead heat with Jokic as the cofavorite.

This haircut foretells that we are going to see a different Embiid prior to the All-Star Game.

Luka Dončić is +1000 and is leading the league in scoring by one-tenth of one percent over Embiid. And now that he has Kyrie Irving alongside him, the Mavs have a chance to finish No. 1 in the West. They begin the weekend eight games behind Denver with 26 games left. The Nuggets and Mavs play each other next Wednesday, and Denver is playing six of its next eight games on the road. Dallas is 2-1 vs. Denver this season, so a tiebreaker will be at stake Wednesday. But Dončić at this price is still enticing.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is +850, which seems like a fair price. He will be a legit candidate the rest of the way. Like Dončić in Dallas, Giannis in Milwaukee may need his team to finish No. 1 in the conference to sway MVP ballot choices.

Let’s Look At The Other Awards

Rookie of the Year: Paolo Banchero of Orlando is -750 and Bennedict Mathurin is +750. Next up is Walker Kessler of Utah at +3500, and he is the real deal defensively, is shooting 71%, and will see more playing time with Jarrett Vanderbilt dealt away. But his scoring average is pedestrian. Banchero (20.0) averages 2.9 more points than Mathurin (17.1). Looks like a two-horse race barring #WalkerKesslerMania.

Most Improved Player: Lauri Markannen of Utah is -110 and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander is +125. Tyrese Haliburton has dropped to +2700. Cam Thomas went from +25000 to +1400 in 2 days, Jalen Brunson has risen to +5000, and Nic Claxton is now at +8000 because he is in the DPOY conversation. For the bold, Jordan Poole is +24000.

Sixth Man: Russell Westbrook was the heavy favorite for more than half the season, but he is in limbo pending a buyout after the Lakers dealt him to Utah, and he has dropped to +4200. Malcolm Brogdon is a worthy -170 favorite, because somebody from the Celtics has to appear on virtually every ballot. Voters think that way. Poole is +4200, but has started 32 of 55 games. With Steph Curry out, Poole will soon be ineligible, because bench appearances must outnumber starts to qualify for Sixth Man.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jaren Jackson Jr. is -200, his Memphis Grizzlies are 33-21 and second in the West, and voters will want to put a Memphis representative on their ballots. Nic Claxton of Brooklyn and Bam Adebayo of Miami are +700. There is a tie for steals leader between O.G. Anonuby of Toronto and Jimmy Butler of Miami (2.1 per game). Anonuby is +4900. Butler is +50000.

Coach of the Year: Joe Mazzulla of Boston is +187 at, and Mike Brown of Sacramento is +200. Which one over overachieved? And is a COY kiss of death? Interesting tweet:

Brown has the Kings in third place in the West, and somebody in Sacto needs to get credit there. Domantis Sabonis will likely get a bunch of All-NBA first-team votes.

But if the Kings falter, ponder-worthy COY candidates are Erik Spoelstra of Miami at +6600 and Chris Finch of  Minnesota at +12500. And maybe Tom Thibodeau of New York at +2500.

Today is February 10. The regular season ends April 9. There is a lot of season left. Odds change, and some NBA awards futures markets may have opportunities worth considering before the odds shift. Jordan Poole at +24000 for Most Improved Player? With Steph Curry out? Hmmm.

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