Leonard for MVP: Ka-Why Not?

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With basketball season just three weeks away, it’s time to check out the favourites for the NBA MVP award. This award is less about recognizing the best basketball player in the world and more about appeasing the voters’ criteria du-jour, so let’s get right into those writers’ psyches. 


Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs (+350)

Finishing second and third over the last two seasons in NBA MVP voting, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is this year’s favourite to take home the honours for the first time in his career. The two-time All-Star is often tagged by pundits as the best two-way player in the world and, as a result, has become a trendy pick for the MVP in recent years. Leonard lacks the wow-factor of many of the other contenders for the award, but that probably plays in his favour, as you couldn’t get more ‘wow’ than last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook. Generally, voters don’t stick with the same storyline year-to-year. 


LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (+450)

Many still consider LeBron James the best basketball player in the world, and rightly so, as there isn’t anything the future hall of famer can't-do on the court. Dribble, drive, shoot, pass, defend (only when absolutely necessary, of course), you name it, he does it better than most. Why doesn’t he win the award every year then? The main reason is voter fatigue. This award is mostly about the voters making a statement. 

LeBron is also selective about when he chooses to try on defense in the regular season, but he cares more about playoff success and career longevity. The fact that he hasn’t won the award since the 2012-2013 season bodes well for his chances this season – a reverse voter fatigue of sorts.  

Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (+550)

Kevin Durant is an absolute master when it comes to putting the ball through the hoop efficiently. Let’s get nerdy for a second. His true shooting percentage, an all-encompassing measure of one’s scoring efficiency, was 65.1% last season, by far the best of any top 10 MVP award contenders for the upcoming season (teammate Steph Curry’s mark was closest at 62.4%). If you’re a “best player on the best team” type of bettor, look no further than Kevin Durant. The Warriors are one of the strongest teams ever assembled in league history.

*Odds as of September 25, 2017