Why Damian Lillard Is a Sleeper Pick for NBA MVP

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Getty Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard

Playing in a small market does not help Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard get enough recognition as a superstar and that is exactly why his NBA MVP odds have so much betting value.

Damian Lillard has averaged more than 25 points per game in four straight seasons and his numbers last year were solid, he finished with 25.8 points, 6.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds in 35.5 minutes over 80 regular season games. Lillard shot 44.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and his performance in the playoffs was inspiring.

Lillard led the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals while averaging 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 40.6 minutes over 16 games and he made 41.8 percent of his shots and 37.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.

What It Takes to Be Named NBA MVP

Matt Schmitto of RotoGrinders shared interesting winning trends that past NBA MVP winners had:

  • Nine of the last 10 MVP winners have been either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in their respective conferences
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are the only MVP winners that have played less than 76 games since 2001
  • Among the last 10 NBA MVP winners, eight have had the highest Player
    Efficiency Rating (PER) in the league
  • Four of the last six winners have led the NBA in scoring

Games played, being in a contender, scoring and efficiency are all aspects that NBA MVP voters consider but in 2017 Russell Westbrook proved that if someone has historical numbers they can make up for not playing with one of the top teams in the league.

At +2800 betting odds to win the NBA MVP award next season, Lillard’s price is great because he finished sixth and fourth in MVP voting and the Trail Blazers, while underestimated, as they’re ranked behind the Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Warriors, Jazz and Nuggets in the Western Conference, have a very talented and deep team that can make some noise and get home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

If Lillard’s numbers are similar to what he has produced in the last four years and the Trail Blazers stay healthy, they can contend in the Western Conference and if their star center Jusuf Nurkic (5.1 Box/Plus Minus last season) comes back, their chances to go far next season improve significantly.

Nurkic is reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery from the serious leg injury he suffered and the team’s Big Three of Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic, along with solid role players like Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, Zach Collins and Hassan Whiteside gives them a deep roster. Lillard can shine next season and help take this team far, making him a player to watch in the NBA MVP race.

2019-20 NBA MVP Odds

*Odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by 5Dimes

Giannis Antetokounmpo +300

Stephen Curry +550

Anthony Davis +750

James Harden +800

Joel Embiid +1200

Kawhi Leonard +1200

LeBron James +1200

Nikola Jokic +1800

Paul George +2000

Damian Lillard +2800

Russell Westbrook +3000

Kemba Walker +5000

Kyrie Irving +5000

Luka Doncic +5000

Donovan Mitchell +5000

Jimmy Butler +7500

Karl-Anthony Towns +7500

Khris Middleton +10000

Derrick Rose +10000

Pascal Siakam +10000

Trae Young +10000

Ben Simmons +10000

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