NBA Finals MVP Rankings

The market everyone loves betting into for every championship series or game is MVP. It’s easy to see why.

Usually bettors are getting plus prices on their wagers, and the allure of hitting a 65-1 longshot in the span of about a week is enticing. However, we have overwhelming evidence to suggest that it is a fool’s errand to look anywhere other than the favorites.

 

But, where is the fun in that?

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With the Finals beginning tonight, let’s look at every player who is listed to win Finals MVP and discuss their chances to actually win it.

Tier 1: The Favorites

Jayson Tatum (-115) and Luka Doncic (+205) are the only players allowed in this category.

Tatum is the best player on the team favored to win the series. He is also the best example of the gravity a star can have when it comes to voters deciding who will win this award.

In the Eastern Conference Finals Tatum averaged 30.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists on 46.3% shooting. That is an extremely impressive stat line, but his series was devoid of moments.

It was Jaylen Brown who forced the turnover and hit the subsequent 3-point shot to send Game 1 into overtime. It was Brown who dropped 24 points in the first half of Game 2 while Tatum scored just 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting. It was Brown who tied Game 4 on a floater, forced a turnover and blocked a shot before assisting on what would be the game-winning 3-pointer from Derrick White.

Brown did all of this while averaging 29.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 51.7% shooting from the floor. Yet, Tatum got four of the nine votes from the panel who voted for MVP.

Voters usually never stray from the star in these instances. Should the Celtics win the series and Tatum has an average performance throughout the Finals, it is unlikely the voters stray from him yet again.

As for Doncic, there are very few universes in which the Mavericks win this series and he does not win MVP.

Doncic leads Dallas in points (28.8), rebounds (9.6), assists (8.8) and steals this postseason. He will likely have an insane statistical series against Boston, and there is no chance the voters overlook Doncic in a win for the Mavericks.

One could make the argument – many on this very network have – that Doncic to win Finals MVP is a better way to support Dallas winning the Finals, as opposed to betting on them to win the series. 

Tier 2: The Robins

Fresh off of grabbing the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, Jaylen Brown (+650) is a much shorter shot to win this award than his fellow Robin in Kyrie Irving (+2200).

Brown has been on one throughout this postseason. He comes into this series averaging 25.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 54.1% shooting from the floor for the entire playoffs. As previously mentioned, he was insane in the series against Indiana.

He will have more opportunities than Irving. Brown’s usage rate (27.6%) is higher than Irving’s (25.2%). He’s been the slightly more efficient player in the postseason, averaging 121.1 points per 100 shot attempts compared to 120.1 for Irving.

Part of Brown’s MVP case against Indiana was his play on defense. In 19.3 clutch minutes this postseason he had two steals, a block and three defensive rebounds. Irving does not have a block or steal in his 38.3 clutch minutes.

Irving also has to overcome his star if he is going to win this award. Tatum took four of five MVP votes in the conference finals despite Brown’s performance and he does not carry the same respect as Doncic does with voters.

Of the two, Brown is the more viable option in this tier to win MVP.

Tier 3: The Role Players

This category is going to be made up of all Boston Celtics.

Kristaps Porzingis (+3500), Derrick White (+3500) and Jrue Holiday (+5000). Of this trio I believe Holiday is the only threat to win the award.

Holiday will be targeted by Doncic quite a bit due to the discrepancy in size. That is an insane challenge for the Celtics’ point guard, but it also presents an opportunity to put some great defensive plays on his resume against what most consider to be the best player in the series.

Holiday is also an offensive threat, specifically from beyond the arc. He has hit 40.2% of his 3-point attempts in the postseason, and he might get a chance to cook Dereck Lively who could be put onto him as part of some defensive game planning by Dallas.

Porzingis does have some intrigue as well, especially if I’m right in thinking he will be a focal point of the gameplan to attack these centers on defense. Having said that, small-ball lineups with Maxi Kleber loom as a wildcard for Dallas, and that could eliminate some of the effectiveness Porzingis has on the series.

Tier 4: The No Chancers

P.J. Washington (+30000), Al Horford (+40000) and Derrick Jones Jr. (+50000) all find themselves in this category. I suppose every other player could be abducted by aliens, and the two benches duke it out the rest of the series. If that happens each of these three could be live. In the real world, I wouldn’t bet these guys with your money.