NBA In-Season Tournament MVP Odds: Damian Lillard Steps Into the Lead
For the 2023-24 NBA season, the league has introduced an inaugural In-Season Tournament, a high-stakes event mostly incorporated into the teams' regular season schedules. It's a fun and unique way to introduce drama and big games into a part of the NBA season that can sometimes be the least interesting stretch of the campaign.
The players are clearly invested. Following the Phoenix Suns' quarterfinal loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant told AZ Central's Duane Rankin, "I wasn't a huge fan of the In-Season Tournament when they were announcing it. Today, leading up to the game, it felt like a playoff game."
For an added layer of excitement, the event will also be crowning an MVP. According to the league's FAQs regarding the event, the "Selection will be based on the players’ performance in both Group Play and the Knockout Rounds," putting the full body of In-Season Tournament work into consideration.
FanDuel Sportsbook has updated its In-Season Tournament MVP odds after the quarterfinals, taking the tournament's most recent action into account. Here's how they stand as the remaining teams prepare for the semifinals.
NBA In-Season Tournament MVP Odds
|New Orleans Pelicans
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Los Angeles Lakers
|New Orleans Pelicans
Included in the table are some of each player's basic stats from their five In-Season Tournament games so far. As you can see, it's a close race at the top, and things could go several ways.
NBA In-Season Tournament MVP Betting
The Milwaukee Bucks -- the current frontrunners to take the whole thing down with +165 odds -- have two representatives right at the top of the race, while New Orleans Pelicans, Lakers, and Indiana Pacers each have one star emerging as a potential tournament MVP.
With this being the first year of the In-Season Tournament -- we're in somewhat uncharted waters here, which makes this a volatile market. While we don't have any historical references to draw from when it comes to this award, it seems like voters -- based on the current odds -- will likely lean toward the "best" player on the winning team.
Given that the Bucks are the current favorites to win the inaugural title, it makes sense that both of their stars -- Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo -- find their names near the top of the odds to win the MVP award. As you can see from the stats I included in the table, both players are playing elite ball and have very similar statistical production.
That could make placing a bet on either Bucks star a bit riskier than a wager on other frontrunners -- if Milwaukee wins, it might figuratively come down to whoever has a better showing in the title game between Giannis and Dame to determine the MVP.
Their previous game makes for a solid example. The Bucks won in fiery fashion over the New York Knicks in the quarterfinals -- the Bucks' 146 points in that game were the fifth-most any team had scored in regulation in a single game all year, and they were capable of doing that against a Knicks defense that has otherwise earned solid marks during the season.
That's certainly In-Season Tournament MVP-caliber stuff. But during that game, Lillard finished with 7 fewer points, 5 fewer rebounds, and 3 fewer assists than Antetokounmpo. Lillard has the slight edge in betting odds right now, but the award could eventually go to whichever of the two has the better performance in the final game.
By comparison, barring something really unforeseen, Tyrese Haliburton would be the clear MVP candidate if the Indiana Pacers won the tourney, while both LeBron James (+430) and Brandon Ingram (+430) have solid edges over teammates Anthony Davis (+750) and Zion Williamson (+1600) headed into the semis.
If you are looking for a bet and don't want to risk it with either of the Bucks' two deserving stars, James seems to be in a great position to put himself on the podium.
The four-time regular-season MVP could add a new kind of MVP accolade to his trophy cabinet. His +12.2 box plus-minus ranks second-best among the frontrunners for the award (trailing only Haliburton's 12.4 mark), showcasing the elite level of play he's kept up throughout the In-Season Tournament.
If the Lakers beat the Pelicans on Thursday night, James should end up right near the MVP frontrunners headed into the title game, and if LA wins it all, the award could belong to James as long as AD doesn't go crazy in these next two games.
Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook to check out all the NBA betting odds.