The NBA season will start on Dec. 22 with a 72-game season in 2020-21. This creates an interesting dynamic because games are being condensed into a smaller window and teams will be playing more back-to-back sets against the same team, sort of like a series in baseball. One of the markets that we’ll be looking at with a week to go until the season starts is leading scorer. Houston Rockets G James Harden is the reigning scoring champ after averaging 34.3 points per game. He’s the favorite heading into 2020-21. Here we’ll take a look at some of the players with the top odds and some value picks to consider.
James Harden, HOU (+125)
Like I mentioned above, Harden is the favorite at +125 to win the scoring title this season. Right now, that number is a little bit sketchy. Harden’s demand for a trade isn’t anything new and we keep seeing rumors pop up that he wants to go to a contender. If said trade goes down, Harden’s stock to be scoring champ would likely plummet. It would be hard for The Beard to put up gaudy scoring numbers if he’s sharing the rock with say, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving or Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. So I’m not crazy about throwing anything on Harden to win the scoring title. I think there’s better value down in the odds.
Luka Doncic, DAL (+650)
I’m just all-in on Doncic this season. I think he’s the best option as No. 1 overall pick in fantasy basketball. I think he’s the pick for MVP. I think he’s got a decent chance of winning the scoring title, especially if he’s going to win MVP. If Harden regresses a bit with a new coach in Stephen Silas in Houston, there will be a few players able to dethrone him of the scoring title. Doncic is my favorite pick to do so. He’s coming off 28.8 points per game in 2019-20. If he can improve his 3-point shooting — which was 31.6 percent last season — the sky’s the limit for Luka.
Devin Booker, PHX (+1100)
The Phoenix Suns are going to be a sneaky playoff contender this season. Chris Paul is in town and we know his track record with shooting guards, most notably James Harden. With Harden and CP3 on the same squad, The Beard has some of his best seasons. Booker could be next in line and we know he’s more than capable of filling it up. Book averaged 26.6 points per game for the second straight season in 2019-20. It’d be a big jump up to around 30-32 PPG, which I’d guess is where he’d need to get to in order to win the scoring title. The Suns have the offense to get it done and Booker has 50+ point games in his bag.
Trae Young, ATL (+1400)
Trae is sort of like the Book of the East. The Atlanta Hawks did a ton this offseason to improve the roster and now they’ve got playoffs on their mind. Young finished fourth in scoring last season at 29.6 points per game and yet has the 8th-best odds to win the scoring title. Sure, there are more mouths to feed in ATL, but that could just free up Young for easier buckets. His usage shouldn’t change much. It’s like Stephen Curry on the Warriors, except Young doesn’t have Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant. The Hawks should run at a fast enough pace that Young will get the shot attempts to be scoring champ.
Bradley Beal, WAS (+2200)
Beal is an interesting case for scoring champion. His odds dropped off because of the acquisition of Russell Westbrook, who is known to be a ball hog and shoot-first PG. Beal thrived last season with John Wall sidelined and not much help in D.C. All things considered, Beal finished second in the NBA in scoring at 30.5 points per game. The Wizards may have Westbrook, but that doesn’t mean Beal can’t lead the NBA in scoring. Washington was 7th in the NBA in points per game at 114.4 and added Westbrook. Plus, you’ve got Rui Hachimura improving, Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans is back, rookie Deni Avdija should provide something in Year 1. The Wizards could finish as a top 5 offense and Beal might still have a shot at a scoring title.
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