NBA MVP Race 2020: Predictions & Odds - NBA Shows Off Its International Talent
The NBA is truly a global league. There are more international stars in today’s NBA than we’ve ever seen before. Gone are the days of stereotypical international prospects, known only for finesse contributions. In 2019, we are seeing the best the basketball world has to offer on its biggest stage.
Three of these weeks top five players in the MVP race are not your typical American prospect.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an excellent year, showing his same dominance in even fewer minutes.
Luka Doncic is a product of the excellent European basketball league. The Slovenian shows talent akin to the NBA’s best, at only 20 years old. Meanwhile, the NBA’s investment in Africa is truly bearing fruit, as Siakam has overcome early criticisms of his game and developed into a premier two-way threat.
Don’t discount the domestic talent of the NBA though. LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are still some of the NBA’s most dominant players. However, some oft-forgotten contributors have put their foot into the race.
Eight year NBA veteran Jimmy Butler has renewed his play style and has led his Miami Heat to a top-three place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Butler’s former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns is doing just fine without him. Towns’ Timberwolves have transitioned from the bottom of the West, to the top eight and in prime playoff position.
The 2019-2020 season is proving to be the NBA’s most exciting installment, due to the sheer amount of talent we’re seeing across the board.
1. (F) Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks
The best from Giannis on his birthday:
27 PTS | 11 REB | 4 AST | 55% FG pic.twitter.com/IAXuWHkYMM
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 7, 2019
Not only is Giannis looking like the out-and-out MVP for a second consecutive season, but the Greek Freak is also enforcing his play in fewer minutes than ever before.
In the Bucks three most recent wins, Antetokounmpo has contributed 30.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 2.7 made three-pointers per game. All in just 25.4 minutes per game!
The Greek Freak is truly his moniker, a freak. Not only did he show that he can’t be swayed by interior threats like Andre Drummond, but he can lead the charge against a Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led Clippers team that would lose by 28.
What is next for the Greek Freak?
Over his last 16 matches, Antetokounmpo is averaging 5.7 three-point attempts per game, converting on at least two per outing. Combing that with 11 trips to the foul line per game, Antetkounmpo is slowly becoming the most unstoppable threat in the league.
2. (G) Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 9, 2019
At just 20 years old, Luka Doncic is putting up numbers that compare to LeBron James in the prime of his career. Don’t be mistaken, it is no fluke. While not the most athletic player on the court, his scoring and playmaking are wreaking havoc across the league. Not only has he been unguardable, but he’s now bringing his teammates into the fold with the attention he draws.
Since December has started, Doncic has been on a tear. After impressively defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on their home court, Doncic led his team to victory for a win streak of four against inferior competition.
In nine games where Doncic is shooting less than 50% from the field, he is making it a point to create for others – averaging 8.44 assists in those contests. the key to beating the Mavericks is stopping Doncic, easier said than done.
3. (F) LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
King Vision 🥽
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 9, 2019
LeBron James may be the most controversial figure in the NBA today, but that certainly doesn’t stop him from being one of its most productive. Not only has he led his team to 20 wins in 23 contests, James has not let his effort go unnoticed.
Thought to be declining athletically, James notched his 17th double-double of the young season against the Utah Jazz. His intelligence is where his greatest contributions lie though.
LeBron James has recorded 16 double-digit assist games this season. He also leads the league in total assists and assists per game. A double-digit assist game for every year he’s been in the league. The King still reigns.
4. (G) James Harden – Houston Rockets
Hard3n now with 33pts pic.twitter.com/SM4dvpnlQ3
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 8, 2019
James Harden is thriving in today’s modern NBA and is loving his time in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system. Leading the league in scoring by an incredibly margin, Harden figures to put up one of the NBA’s greatest ever scoring season.
Harden is now in the conversation with all-time great Kobe Bryant in terms of scoring. Already beating the legends points per game rate, to this point in the season, while proving himself a more capable playmaker.
Due to the nature of the Rockets play, they can shoot themselves in and out of games. But their record does not truly represent their form. Harden averages 42.1 points per game in wins, and 32.9 per game in losses. When The Beard can but the ball in the basket, the Rockets are hard to beat.
5. (F) Pascal Siakam – Toronto Raptors
33 second clip of Siakam killing Kuzma
— 🍁 (@aoneg_) November 30, 2019
What’s in the water up in Toronto? Trick question, it’s just ice. Just like what is running through the veins of Pascal Siakam. The Cameroonian is averaging career highs in points, assists, boards, threes made and percentage. Once thought to be a serviceable energy player, Siakam is making a case for another trophy in his case.
Even more shocking, Siakam still has a lot of holes in his game. He’s not much of a creator off the dribble, while defenders with similar foot speed and length have given him trouble on the perimeter.
As Siakam goes, so do the Raptors. He averages 27.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.0 assists on 51% shooting from the field and 44.4% from three. Compared to his 19.8-7.8-3.2 mark in losses, it is clear that he is, individually, the most valuable Toronto Raptor at any time.
6. (F) Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat
Here’s Jimmy Butler draining the clutch three and saying “I’M A BAD MOTHERF***ER” pic.twitter.com/ajOtRBMlyP
— 𝙃𝙀𝘼𝙏 𝙉𝘼𝙏𝙄𝙊𝙉 (@HeatvsHaters) December 7, 2019
Jimmy Butler has always been abrasive, motivated, and uncaring for the feelings of opponents and fellow players. He’s a hard worker, who does no tolerate insufficient effort from his peers. He is by no means selfish though, as Butler is posting a career season as a playmaker.
Butler is having his best season in terms of assists since the 2016-2017 NBA season. He has shown that he is not a one-dimensional scoring threat, but an all-around player that directly impacts the success of his team.
Look no further than the Heat’s recent overtime win against the Toronto Raptors. Quiet throughout most of the game, Butler went on an individual 8-0 run against Toronto in overtime to seal the game and make the final minutes a professional courtesy. His scoring is down, but Butler is having the best year of his career.
7. (F) Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis on fire in the first quarter 🔥
6-6 FG pic.twitter.com/FbRTR8esrZ
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 9, 2019
It is true that defense wins championships. Anthony Davis brings one of the best defensive skillsets the NBA has. Just to rub salt in the wound of competing NBA clubs, Davis’ defense also comes with 26.6 points per game on 49.4% shooting from the field.
Davis’ defensive contributions more than make up for the fact that his individual usage is way down. The Brow is playing as a secondary to LeBron James, and it is working brilliantly for the Lake Show.
8. (F) Kawhi Leonard – LA Clippers
I think Kawhi Leonard put the exclamation point on this game with this dunk. pic.twitter.com/cJtSenbLga
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) December 2, 2019
Kawhi Leonard’s load management will always be a topic of conversation, but when he does play he is more than welcome. The Klaw is one of the NBA’s most versatile players, displaying a two-way aptitude that is rarely matched across the league.
Leonard only drops due to his performance in the last few games. Splitting matches to the Trail Blazers and Bucks, Leonard has shot a paltry 8 of 29 from the field. More notably, he failed in his first matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo this season.
9. (G) Kemba Walker – Boston Celtics
Kemba navigates to the bucket 🧭 pic.twitter.com/WmfW01gj9W
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 7, 2019
Kemba Walker’s stats misrepresent his contributions. While his production is down in most categories, he has shown excellent efficiency in his opportunities. Most importantly, he is the trigger to a Celtics offence that sits at second place in the Eastern Conference.
10. (C) Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves
WE FELT THAT IN MINNESOTA KAT pic.twitter.com/ktGqrhleZo
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 7, 2019
The KAT makes his way into the MVP Race! With no disrespect to the original Big Cat, this Timberwolf has been one of the stand out players of the year. After a harsh 18-19 campaign, Towns has come back and established himself as the top center in the NBA. Good on this young man from keeping the dying center position relevant in today’s NBA.
NBA MVP Winner Odds 2020
The latest odds for the 2020 NBA MVP Winner are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook.