DeAndre Ayton could be a Finals MVP darkhorse pick (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo the heavy favorite for NBA Finals MVP before Eastern Conference Finals vs. Atlanta even begin
- Multiple players have a range of prices depending on your sportsbook
- See a look at the board at both FanDuel and DraftKings below
If you believe the Phoenix Suns are destined to be NBA champions and someone other than Devin Booker or Chris Paul is going to be the NBA Finals MVP, we would point out that some shopping is in order before pulling the trigger on center DeAndre Ayton.
Ayton is on the board for +4000 at FanDuel and +6000 at DraftKings, so be a savvy shopper.
But if the Clippers are your team and you believe they will overcome their 0-1 deficit and take this series with or without Kawhi Leonard, perhaps you believe Rajon Rondo (a.k.a. Playoff Rondo) will be the difference maker throughout the finals in much the same way he was in Game 5 against Miami in the bubble last season.
Rondo is +25000 at FanDuel and +50000 at DraftKings. Again, look around before clicking “Place Bet.”
And if you want to wager on Jae Crowder of Phoenix or Kevin Huerter of Atlanta or Terrence Mann of the Clippers, you should get on a chat with one of your sportsbook customer service reps and ask that your player be listed. Those chats get kicked up the food chain, and your requested wager will eventually be up there if you are persistent and patient and pleasant.
Below are the Finals MVP odds as of Tuesday afternoon, which have come a long way since Kevin Durant opened as a heavy favorite at the beginning of the postseason.
2021 NBA Finals MVP Odds
|Player||Odds at FanDuel||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds as of June 22nd
2021 NBA Championship Odds Tracker
The Case for Khris Middleton & Jrue Holiday
Giannis is the alpha dog, but we all know that defense wins championships. And we all should remember that when Kevin Durant of Brooklyn ended the Brooklyn Nets’ season with airball, it was Holiday who was defending him.
Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst knew what he was going after when he dealt Eric Bledsoe, three future first-round picks and two additional pick swaps to New Orleans in the offseason. Holiday has always been beloved by his teammates and is a terrific on-the-ball defender – a quantity that does not translate into statistics. He made first team All-Defensive Team alongside Giannis.
Middleton is a terrific defender, too, but his skills are not as refined as Antetokounmpo’s or Holiday’s. But Middleton gets it done on the other end, too, and he carried himself with an awful lot of confidence against Brooklyn while averaging 24.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
The 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive First Team:
🏀 Giannis Antetokounmpo
🏀 Rudy Gobert
🏀 Draymond Green
🏀 Jrue Holiday
🏀 Ben Simmons pic.twitter.com/ZlflnyWlLR
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) June 14, 2021
Middleton, who committed to Team USA on Tuesday, is having his best postseason in three years. If the oddsmakers are correct, he and his teammates will get past the Hawks with relative ease. That gets them one step closer, and that price – and Holiday’s price – are decent ways to hedge against Giannis winning the MVP if the Bucks win the championship.
Of the five players listed on that All-Defensive Team roster, only two are still playing. Taking both of them for finals MVP at DraftKings with the better odds seems like a very decent wager.
Could Ayton Win It Over CP3 and Booker?
Look, the guy just got past the MVP with a four-game sweep of Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in the second round after being a big part of the team effort that ousted LeBron James and the Lakers in the first round.
The Bahamian big man, the first overall pick in 2018, is shooting an incredible 71.6 percent from the field and is coming off a 20-point effort in game 1 against the Clippers. He is a bit of an unknown commodity in markets outside of Phoenix because the Suns were not on national TV all of that much, so he works as a sleeper pick despite the folks on ESPN calling Devin Booker the “next Kobe Bryant” on television Tuesday morning.
Booker and Chris Paul get all of the attention, but the Finals MVP award is based only upon what happens in the championship round. Ayton has played better this season than both Clint Capela and Brook Lopez, so getting to the finals is half of the battle.
If the Suns are in, he is likely the only guy aside from Booker and Paul that gets enough touches to have a shot at the award. Jae Crowder would also have to have a great series, but an MVP worthy series seems highly unlikely. At FanDuel’s +6000 odds, this again seems like safe flyer wager in trying to predict the next Andre Iguodala.
PHOENIX! Let’s go!!!! https://t.co/X20ErLgVyg
— Deandre Ayton (@DeandreAyton) June 18, 2021
And What About Rajon Rondo?
By now we should know that even when the Clippers are down, they are not out. They pulled off the biggest second-half comeback in league history vs. Utah, so doubt them at your peril.
A flyer on Rondo is not the worst idea in the history of ideas if he can replicate over several games what he did in last year’s finals with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Likely? No. But +50000 are the longest odds on anyone except Gallinari, who was Rondo’s teammate until the trade deadline when he was swapped for Lou Williams.
Chris Sheridan has been covering sports gambling since 2018 when PASPA was overturned. a veteran journalist with 30+ years experience covering sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, SheridanHoops and BasketballNews.com, he has been at the forefront of sports gambling coverage since it was legalized.