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Early best bets, sleeper picks for 2021 NBA Finals MVP

Will it be chalk with LeBron or KD taking home Finals MVP? Or will a darkhorse come out of no where? We take a look at the odds and give some early picks.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James takes a moment against New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at the Smoothie King Center.  Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs are set to begin on Saturday with a four-game slate now that the play-in games are over. The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are favored to reach the NBA Finals because of their star power, so NBA Finals MVP wagers on LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant will likely be very popular. Anything could happen between now and July, though. Let’s take a look at some of the favorites and sleepers worth considering.

Pick among the favorites

LeBron James +500

The Lakers might not be the odds-on favorite to win it all, but James will almost certainly be the public’s favorite option. He’s been named the NBA Finals MVP four times and makes everything go for Los Angeles on offense. He recorded a triple-double against the Golden State Warriors to secure the seventh seed in the Western Conference and has been known to elevate his play in the postseason for over a decade. If the reigning champs make it back to the championship series and win despite the odds, James will likely be the driving force behind their success.

Kevin Durant +500

Durant has had an up-and-down year but oddsmakers expect the Nets star to go into overdrive now that the playoffs are here. KD won NBA Finals MVP twice with the Warriors in three seasons and is averaging 29.3 points per 36 minutes for a Brooklyn team that posted the NBA’s highest offensive rating ever. If he’s dominant against the league’s top defense when the NBA Finals rolls around, it’ll be hard to make a case against him.

Sleeper picks

James Harden +1100

Harden was so spectacular when he joined the Nets early in the year that he played himself into the regular-season MVP conversation before missing a hefty chunk of time with a hamstring injury. He’s taken over as Brooklyn’s top playmaker and could end up being the Nets’ most important player in the end because of how he sets the table for the players around him. Harden recorded a triple-double in early a third of his regular-season games with the Nets and could come close to averaging one in the NBA Finals.

Anthony Davis +2000

The Lakers have the second-best odds to win the NBA Finals, but one of their superstars isn’t receiving serious consideration for MVP. Davis matched his co-star’s playoff production for most of the postseason last year but went ghost at times when Los Angeles faced off against the Miami Heat. His play was underwhelming before he missed time with an Achilles injury, but a two-way player of his caliber shouldn't have worse odds than Donovan Mitchell (+1000), who hasn't played since April 16.

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