2020 NBA MVP - Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

NBA MVP 2020

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2020 NBA Most Valuable Player Odds

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook (July 20, 2020).

Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee Bucks-5000
LeBron JamesLos Angeles Lakers+1000
Anthony DavisLos Angeles Lakers+10000
Luka DoncicDallas Mavericks+10000
James HardenHouston Rockets+10000
Nikola JokicDenver Nuggets+15000
Damian LillardPortland Trail Blazers+15000
Kawhi LeonardLA Clippers+25000
Russell WestbrookHouston Rockets+25000

For the past two years, the NBA regular season MVP has been named at the annual NBA Awards award show. Presented by the NBA in partnership with Turner Sports, the NBA Awards were held in late-June after the NBA Playoffs. Since the 1980-1981 NBA Season, a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters from across the United States and Canada has decided the NBA MVP Award winner.

The winner of the 2020 NBA MVP Award will be the 64th winner in history. The award is expected to be given upon the conclusion of the NBA regular season.  Considering seeding is more or less in place and there will only be eight regular-season games before the playoffs, oddsmakers have a good idea of who the winner will be.

We’ll be going over the top NBA MVP odds and predictions. It isn’t just about individual accomplishments for a player to be named MVP. Team success, ability to improve teammates, and overall star-like qualities will always help someone’s case.

First, let’s answer some of the most important questions about the NBA MVP Award.

Who is the Favorite to Win the NBA MVP in 2020?

(F) Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6-11, 242lbs (211cm, 109kg) – Greece


Milwaukee Bucks forward and reigning 2018-2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is the sportsbooks’ favorite to win the NBA MVP award in the 2020 season. The Greek international has led his Bucks to the best record in the Eastern Conference and in the NBA.

Antetokounmpo has improved in almost every major statistical category this season while playing just 30.9 minutes per game. He is the league leader in field goals made (623) and defensive rebounds (653).

In his seventh year in the league, Antetokounmpo is in the third year of a four-year $100 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Who Was the 2019 NBA MVP?

Giannis Antetokounmpo is looking for his second consecutive NBA MVP Award, as he was also the recipient of the honor for the 2019 season.

Antetokounmpo led his team to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, before falling to the eventual NBA Champion Toronto Raptors.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward was the winner by a landslide in 2019. Antetokounmpo accumulated 78 first-place votes and 23 second-place votes. His voting total brought him to 941 total points, with the runner-up, James Harden, only gaining 776.

NBA MVP by Year

Here is a list of the NBA MVP by year:

2019Giannis AntetokounmpoGreeceMilwaukee Bucks
2018James HardenUnited StatesHouston Rockets
2017Russell WestbrookUnited StatesOklahoma City Thunder
2016Stephen Curry (2nd)United StatesGolden State Warriors
2015Stephen CurryUnited StatesGolden State Warriors
2014Kevin DurantUnited StatesOklahoma City Thunder
2013LeBron James (4th)United StatesMiami Heat
2012LeBron James (3rd)United StatesMiami Heat
2011Derrick RoseUnited StatesChicago Bulls
2010LeBron James (2nd)United StatesCleveland Cavaliers
2009LeBron JamesUnited StatesCleveland Cavaliers
2008Kobe BryantUnited StatesLos Angeles Lakers
2007Dirk NowitzkiGermanyDallas Mavericks
2006Steve Nash (2nd)CanadaPhoenix Suns
2005Steve NashCanadaPhoenix Suns
2004Kevin GarnettUnited StatesMinnesota Timberwolves
2003Tim Duncan (2nd)United StatesSan Antonio Spurs
2002Tim DuncanUnited StatesSan Antonio Spurs
2001Allen IversonUnited StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
2000Shaquille O’NealUnited StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1999Karl Malone (2nd)United StatesUtah Jazz
1998Michael Jordan (5th)United StatesChicago Bulls
1997Karl MaloneUnited StatesUtah Jazz
1996Michael Jordan (4th)United StatesChicago Bulls
1995David RobinsonUnited StatesSan Antonio Spurs
1994Hakeem OlajuwonNigeriaHouston Rockets
1993Charles BarkleyUnited StatesPhoenix Suns
1992Michael Jordan (3rd)United StatesChicago Bulls
1991Michael Jordan (2nd)United StatesChicago Bulls
1990Magic Johnson (3rd)United StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1989Magic Johnson (2nd)United StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1988Michael JordanUnited StatesChicago Bulls
1987Magic JohnsonUnited StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1986Larry Bird (3rd)United StatesBoston Celtics
1985Larry Bird (2nd)United StatesBoston Celtics
1984Larry BirdUnited StatesBoston Celtics
1983Moses Malone (3rd)United StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
1982Moses Malone (2nd)United StatesHouston Rockets
1981Julius ErvingUnited StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
1980Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6th)United StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1979Moses MaloneUnited StatesHouston Rockets
1978Bill WaltonUnited StatesPortland Trail Blazers
1977Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5th)United StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1976Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4th)United StatesLos Angeles Lakers
1975Bob McAdooUnited StatesBuffalo Braves
1974Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3rd)United StatesMilwaukee Bucks
1973Dave CowensUnited StatesBoston Celtics
1972Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2nd)United StatesMilwaukee Bucks
1971Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)United StatesMilwaukee Bucks
1970Willis ReedUnited StatesNew York Knicks
1969Wes UnseldUnited StatesBaltimore Bullets
1968Wilt Chamberlain (4th)United StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
1967Wilt Chamberlain (3rd)United StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
1966Wilt Chamberlain (2nd)United StatesPhiladelphia 76ers
1965Bill Russell (5th)United StatesBoston Celtics
1964Oscar RobertsonUnited StatesCincinnati Royals
1963Bill Russell (4th)United StatesBoston Celtics
1962Bill Russell (3rd)United StatesBoston Celtics
1961Bill Russell (2nd)United StatesBoston Celtics
1960Wilt ChamberlainUnited StatesPhiladelphia Warriors
1959Bob Pettit (2nd)United StatesSt. Louis Hawks
1958Bill RussellUnited StatesBoston Celtics
1957Bob CousyUnited StatesBoston Celtics
1956Bob PettitUnited StatesSt. Louis Hawks

Does the NBA MVP Receive A Prize?

The winner of the NBA MVP Award doesn’t receive a prize per se. They are awarded the Maurice Podoloff Trophy, but in terms of cash incentives or bonuses, there are none.

It is written in many players’ team contracts that they receive a bonus upon receiving the award, but that is subject to the terms of the team agreement and not the NBA organization.

In a less direct sense, the NBA MVP in the current climate would be awarded with much more exposure, opportunity for endorsements, and nationally broadcasted matches for his team. The truest prize for the NBA MVP Award winner is the fact that their name is written in history as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Is the NBA MVP Determined by Fan Vote?

No, fans of the NBA do not have a say in who will be awarded the NBA MVP. Unlike All-Star voting, the NBA MVP Award is voted upon by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters across the United States and Canada.

Fan votes are reserved for the NBA All-Star Game, where they make up 50% of the total. Votes by current NBA players and a panel of media members account for 25% each.

The voting process for the NBA MVP Award is as follows. Media members are allowed to award a player of their choice a “vote” ranked from first-place, worth ten-points, to fifth-place, worth one point. The player with the highest points total wins the award.

Has There Ever Been a Unanimous MVP?

In 2015-2016, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. It was the first time in history that a player was unanimously voted the NBA MVP. A unanimous vote means that among the voting parties, Curry received all available votes.

Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and LeBron James in 2013 fell one vote short of a unanimous MVP selection.

When Will the NBA MVP Award Winner Be Announced?

In 2019, the NBA MVP Award was announced during the NBA Awards show on June 24. Due to the suspended season and social distancing protocols, the award has gone unclaimed for longer than ever before.

There is no set date for when the award winners will be announced. However, with the NBA schedule now in place, fans can expect to see the MVP named soon after the scheduled date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals (if necessary) – Tuesday, October 13.

Who Won the First NBA MVP Award?

The first-ever winner of the NBA MVP was forward-center Bob Pettit in 1956, who played for the now-defunct St. Louis Hawks.

Pettit, an LSU alumnus and the second overall pick in the 1954 NBA Draft, won the NBA MVP Award in just his second season in the NBA. He proceeded to win the award again in 1958 when he led the St. Louis Hawks to the NBA Championship.

Bob Pettit was the original interior presence in the NBA. Pettit’s career stats are up there with the best of all-time. His career averages of 26.4 points, 16.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on 43.6% shooting from the field justify his hall of fame place.

Which Position Wins the Most MVP Awards?

The position in the NBA has a fluid definition over the course of NBA history. As times have changed, styles have changed. As such certain players were highlighted in eras where they wouldn’t have been in others. The positional success of players in relation to the MVP award greatly represents this.

Point Guard (6)

Winners: Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook

The point guard position is tied for second as the most successful NBA position at winning the MVP Award. Defined by their ability to distribute the ball, point guards are largely responsible for the success of their team. Generally talented in accumulating assists, players like Steve Nash, Bob Cousy, and Magic Johnson wowed fans and critics with their ability to lift the play of their teammates.

Newer stars like Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose added to the primary playmaking responsibilities of the point guard by becoming elite scorers. Their ability to distribute as well as score at will drove the success of their squads and garnered them votes.

In a league of their own, Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook are the only two players to average a triple-double in a season – separated by 53 years. The two were terrors across the court, dangerous from every position, and transcendent to the game of basketball.

Shooting Guard (3)

Winners: Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, James Harden

The least successful position at winning the NBA MVP, shooting guards that have won the honor have been defined by their positional namesake. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the league’s best-ever scorers and the success of their teams were built around them.

While Allen Iverson failed to win an NBA Championship, the diminutive guards ability to score was transcendent for a player of his size. James Harden is also one of the leagues most creative scorers, breaking records set by his predecessors and ushering in a score-first mentality not seen since Bryant.

Small Forward (5)

Winners: Julius Irving, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Small Forward position has been defined by the do-it-all nature of its players. Scoring, defending, playmaking, rebounding, these players could truly do it all.

There has been a rise in the use of small forwards in recent history, as skill level has increased greatly. Julius Irving and Larry Bird were excellent scorers in their own way and filled the stat sheet every night.

The entry of LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo into the fold defined an almost new position. Small forwards in body, but point guards in ability, these two dominate opponents on each end of the court. With little drawback to their game.

Don’t forget a player with the skill of Kevin Durant though. Durant may not be the playmaker, rebounder, or defender that these other winners are, but Durant shows that in the game of basketball scoring is still paramount. 6-11 with a monstrous wingspan and a feathery shooting touch, Durant is one of the best scorers of all time.

Power Forward (6)

Winners: Bob Pettit, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki

The power forward position is one that took a long time to see growth. Size matters in the NBA whether it is in terms of height or strength. Power forwards like Bob Pettit, Charles Barkley, and Karl Malone were excellent scorers in the low post. Barkley, being of smaller stature, showed off guard-like skills while Malone benefitted from fantastic interplay with his teammates.

Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are more famed for their defensive intensity. The two could not be more opposite in terms of their personality, but their contributions on the court are immense. The two NBA Champions’ ability on the defensive side defined their team’s success, on top of their ability to score.

Dirk Nowitzki was the first of his like in the NBA. A lank, seven-footer from Germany made his name on the perimeter rather than in the post. While criticized early in his career, Nowitzki’s uniqueness made him the most unguardable player in his prime.

Center (12)

Remember when we said size matters in the NBA? The center position epitomizes that. It is by far the most successful position in terms of winning the NBA MVP Award, doubling its closest competitor as of 2020.

An easy basket nearest to the rim is what coaches want and when you tout the sheer size, skill, and strength of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar there are few if any that can stop them.

As the last defense for an NBA team, the center position is also saddled with responsibility should his teammates fail. Bill Russell, Wes Unseld, and Moses Malone showed that stopping a team from scoring or getting second chances was as valuable as scoring the ball.

Centers used to define the game of basketball, but the direction of the game has changed to the perimeter and it has been seen in the NBA MVP winners list. Despite having the most winners by position, the last time a center won NBA MVP was 2000.

Has a Rookie Ever Won NBA MVP?

Yes! Two players have achieved the tremendous accomplishment of winning MVP as a rookie. Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960 and Wes Unseld of the Baltimore Bullets in 1969.

It speaks to the overall skill level of the NBA that the feat has yet to be accomplished again in over 50 years.

Who Is the Youngest/Oldest Ever NBA Mvp?

The youngest player to win the NBA MVP award was Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. At just 22 years old, the Chicagoan led his hometown Bulls to 62 wins and the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Averaging 25.0 points, 7.7 assists, and 6.3 offensive box plus/minus, Rose was near unstoppable at the top of his game. Unfortunately, Rose’s career stalled due to injuries and re-injury.

The oldest ever NBA MVP was Karl Malone, who won the award at 35 years old. The power forward is one of the best scorers to ever play the game, as he averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on 50.9% shooting from the field in his MVP season.

Surprisingly, Malone was not named an All-Star that year.

Who Has Won the Most NBA MVP Awards?

The winner of the most NBA MVP awards in history is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He won the award six times (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980) over the course of his career, to go along with a number of other incredible basketball accomplishments.

Not only did Abdul-Jabbar win five of nine available MVP Awards during the seventies, he is also a six-time NBA Champion. Surprisingly, Abdul-Jabbar won the most valuable player award only twice when the year coincided with him winning an NBA Championship.

Which NBA Franchises Have Won the Most NBA MVPs?

Number of AwardsTeamYears
10Boston Celtics1957, 1958, 1961, 1962,

1963, 1965, 1973, 1984,

1985, 1986

8Los Angeles Lakers1976, 1977, 1980, 1987,

1989, 1990, 2000, 2008

6Philadelphia 76ers1966, 1967, 1968, 1981,

1983, 2001

6Chicago Bulls1988, 1991, 1992, 1996,

1998, 2011

4Houston Rockets1979, 1982, 1994, 2018
4Milwaukee Bucks1971, 1972, 1974, 2019
3San Antonio Spurs1995, 2002, 2003
3Phoenix Suns1993, 2005, 2006
3Golden State/Philadelphia Warriors1960, 2015, 2016
2St. Louis Hawks1956, 1959
2Utah Jazz1997, 1999
2Cleveland Cavaliers2009, 2010
2Miami Heat2012, 2013
2Oklahoma City Thunder2014, 2017
1Cincinnati Royals1964
1Baltimore Bullets1969
1New York Knicks1970
1Buffalo Braves1975
1Portland Trail Blazers1978
1Minnesota Timberwolves2004
1Dallas Mavericks2007

Which NBA Franchises Have Never Won an MVP Award?

There are nine different NBA franchises that have failed to produce an NBA MVP winner.

  1. Brooklyn Nets
  2. Charlotte Hornets
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Detroit Pistons
  5. Indiana Pacers
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Orlando Magic
  9. Toronto Raptors

When we take a look at the upcoming 2020 NBA Awards season, it looks like these teams will remain without an MVP winner.

2020 NBA MVP Winner Predictions

Now let’s get into it. The MVP Race is interesting this season, as there are a number of new candidates and returning candidates that have had excellent seasons this year. We’ll give you a rundown on how best to judge the field.

Of course, with the NBA season getting a restart in Orlando, the odds can quickly change. One injury or positive COVID-19 test could take a player or a team out of the running entirely.

The Contenders:

1) (F) Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6-11, 242lbs (211cm, 109kg) – Milwaukee Bucks (53-12)


Analysis: Giannis Antetokounmpo is by far the frontrunner to be the winner of the 2020 NBA MVP Award this year. Antetokounmpo has carried his team to the NBA Playoffs for the last three seasons. In the 2018-2019 season, Antetokounmpo had his longest playoff run until his Milwaukee Bucks were knocked out in the Eastern Conference Finals. The reigning 2019 NBA MVP has improved across the board this season, despite playing his lowest minutes per game average since his rookie season.

To win a second MVP trophy would cement his place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. It would be only the second time a non-American player won multiple MVP awards since Canada’s Steve Nash. It would also be the first time since Steve Nash that an international player won back-to-back MVP’s.

2) (F) LeBron James – 6-9, 250lbs (206cm, 113kg) – Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)


Analysis: There is no secret as to what LeBron James brings a team. At 35 years old, LeBron James hasn’t missed a step this season. With a renewed cast, his playmaking is better than it has ever been before by averaging a career-high in assists (10.6). After an off 2018-2019 season where he failed to make the playoffs, James is looking to get right back into title contention.

James has an excellent chance at the award, especially due to being a larger market like Los Angeles. All eyes are on Los Angeles and James’ brilliance is consistently on display. The difficulty for James is the dominance of Antetokounmpo and the fact that teammate Anthony Davis may cannibalize his votes.

3) (F-C) Anthony Davis – 6-10, 253lbs (208cm, 114kg) – Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)


Analysis: Anthony Davis finds himself in the running for the Most Valuable Player Award, despite joining a new team and taking a lesser role. Despite playing second fiddle to LeBron James all season, the ability of Anthony Davis has been on full display. His scoring hasn’t taken a dip, but his defensive intensity is on greater display than ever. It’s clear that without Davis’ leadership, the Lakers would not have the same success that they are currently enjoying.

Should Anthony Davis win the MVP, it would be the first time he has won the award. Davis is a seven-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA team member, and a three-time All-Defensive team member. Already a likely Hall of Fame member, an MVP Award would cement his place in Springfield.

Just Not Enough:

4) (G) James Harden – 6-5, 220lbs (196cm, 99kg) – Houston Rockets (40-24)


Analysis: Former NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden certainly has a chance to bring home to award this year. His scoring has barely dipped from his insane 36.1 points per game last season. The issue with Harden is that scoring is about all he does. While he’s made baskets at an elite level, his defensive ability is still lacking, and his team hasn’t been able to crack the top four of the Western Conference. Ranked sixth in the Western Conference, the Rockets’ success as a team, as driven by James Harden, hasn’t been as impactful as previous seasons.

5) (G) Luke Doncic – 6-7, 218lbs (201cm, 98kg) – Dallas Mavericks (40-27)


Analysis: Luka Doncic enters the MVP conversation, despite it being just his second season in the NBA. Last year’s Rookie of the Year has stepped up his game to become one of the most dangerous players in the NBA. Despite putting up LeBron James-esque numbers, the Mavericks haven’t seen the success that they’d like. Conversely, where would the Mavericks be without Doncic’s incredible contributions?

6) (C) Nikola Jokic – 7-0, 253lbs (213cm, 114kg) – Denver Nuggets (43-22)


Analysis: The Joker has burst onto the scene in the NBA and has become, likely, the league’s top center. After entering the league as a chubby, low-post banger, Jokic’s transformation both physically and technically makes him truly unique. His intuition on offense sets him apart. With the passing ability of a young Arvydas Sabonis and the scoring skillset of a true inside-out center, it is no wonder his Nuggets are third in the stacked Western Conference.

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7) Kawhi Leonard – 6-7, 230lbs (201cm, 104kg) – LA Clippers (44-20)


Analysis: Not many were sure what they would see out of Kawhi Leonard this season. After a season of “load management” with his 2019 Champion Toronto Raptors, Leonard joined the Clippers as the savior of a fallen franchise. Leonard has not disappointed, reaching new heights in scoring, maintaining his spectacular defensive ability, and debuting a newfound playmaking sense. Games played are the real issue for Leonard this season. Despite the Clippers being second in the Western Conference, Leonard’s load-management continues to this day. Only playing in beneficial matchups or ones where he’s had ample rest.

8) Russell Westbrook


Analysis: Former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook joined his old Thunder running mate James Harden this past offseason when he was traded from Oklahoma City to Houston. It took a while for him to get settled, but once he got going there was no looking back. Westbrook is a capable right-hand man for Harden, able to maintain

9) Damian Lillard


Analysis: Damian Lillard is putting together another All-NBA worthy season. He’s averaging a career-high in points, assists, and three-point percentage. There’s no doubt that Lillard is a top-level talent, but despite his efforts, the Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to make the playoff picture. A team that fails to qualify for the NBA Playoffs has never had an MVP in the modern era.

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Christian Jope

Expert on NBA

Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.

Email: christian.jope@wsn.com