WNBA

WNBA MVP Odds: Who Can Catch A'ja Wilson?

Annie Nader
Annie Nader@ANader33
WNBA MVP Odds: Who Can Catch A'ja Wilson?

We're nearly a quarter of the way through the WNBA regular season, making now a great time to check in on the MVP race.

Before we dive into the odds and top candidates, let's take a look at the historical criteria for the Most Valuable Player in the W.

In the last 10 years -- not including the shortened 2020 season -- the MVP winner ranked in the top three of Player Impact Estimate (PIE), a metric used to gauge the percentage of events in a game where a player contributed. 7 out of 10 winners ended the season with a league-best PIE, so we should be keyed in on this metric.

If we check out the last eight seasons -- not including 2020 -- a specific MVP resume comes to the forefront. Each of the last eight MVPs ranked in the top 5 of points per game, top 5 of rebounds per game, top 10 in plus/minus, top 10 in net rating, and were on a team that finished as a top-3 seed or better.

While the rebounding stat should perhaps be viewed as anecdotal, the other criteria seem necessary for a player's MVP case.

Team performance is treated with special reverence by the W's voting body. Since 2010, the year the league was reduced to 12 teams, each MVP has been on a team that finished as a top 3 seed. Only two of these MVPs finished as a three-seed, so while we've seen a player's team come in third place, we should more or less expect this year's award winner to be on one of the top two teams.

This is super helpful when narrowing down our list of candidates. While Arike Ogunbowale (+3000 MVP odds; sixth-shortest) is averaging a league-leading 26.6 points per game, her Dallas Wings (3-4) currently sit out of playoff contention and FanDuel Sportsbook has their win total set at 19.5, which would be good for a .500 record.

The same goes for Kahleah Copper (+1600 MVP odds; fifth-shortest), who is netting 22.9 points per game (third-most) but finds herself on a Phoenix Mercury (4-5) team that has their win total set at 20.5.

With all this in mind, let’s dive into the WNBA MVP odds and explore the worthy targets in this market.

WNBA MVP Odds

Player
WNBA MVP Odds
A'ja Wilson-130
Alyssa Thomas+600
Napheesa Collier+750
Breanna Stewart+1500
Kahleah Copper+1600
Arike Ogunbowale+3000
Jackie Young+4100
View Full Table

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces (-130)

The 2024 MVP is A’ja Wilson’s award to lose.

Wilson won MVP in the 2020 and 2022 seasons and finished third place in last year’s tight race, which eventually awarded the New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart.

While the Las Vegas Aces have gone just 4-2 this season, the back-to-back champions are still the favorite to cash in on a three-peat (+100 championship odds). It would be quite the upset if Vegas ended the season outside of third place, so Wilson seems to have the team performance aspect of this award checked.

As of this writing, Wilson is averaging 26.5 points (second-most) and 12.5 rebounds (most) per game. She also ranks first in PIE, so it’s easy to see why she is the heavy favorite in this market.

We cannot thumb our noses at Wilson, but should the Aces lose out on the top seed after maintaining first-place residency for two straight seasons, the door will open for other candidates.

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun (+600)

Despite receiving the most first-place votes in the 2023 season, Alyssa Thomas has yet to claim this award in her career.

That could change this season as the Connecticut Sun (8-0) are off to a red-hot star with Thomas contributing 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds (fourth-most), and 9.0 assists (most) per game. She also sports the third-best PIE in the WNBA.

Thomas has a curious MVP case. While her total stat line and Connecticut’s performance thus far are encouraging, she has not played a major role on the scoring end. She averaged a career-high 15.5 points per game last season and, as mentioned, has been scoring 13.8 points this season.

Tamika Catchings won the 2011 MVP despite scoring just 15.5 points per game, but we are seeing higher averages across the league in this day and age. Beyond Catchings, the MVP has averaged a minimum of 17.6 points and a minimum of 18.9 points in the last 10 seasons.

Thomas’ low scoring output draws concern, but on the other hand, we saw her receive the most first-place votes just last year, and the 11th-year player could be duly rewarded should the Sun keep up their league-best play.

Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx (+750)

Napheesa Collier has been putting up MVP-esque numbers but might not have a strong enough comprehensive case.

Through eight games, the former UConn Husky is averaging 21.4 points (fourth-most), 11.3 rebounds (third-most), and 2.3 steals (third-most). These numbers are no fad as Collier netted 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the 2023 season.

She’s also managing the fourth-best plus/minus and sixth-best PIE in the WNBA. Though the Minnesota Lynx (6-2) are off to a solid start, they’ll have a tough time ultimately claiming a top-three seed, which as mentioned, is historically necessary for an MVP case.

The Sun have been perfect to start the season while the Aces and Liberty look determined to continue their league-wide dominance. If Minnesota can slip into third place or better by the season’s end, Collier will be a serious talking point in the MVP conversation, but that’s a somewhat tall task.

The time will come for Collier, who finished fourth in last year’s MVP voting but has never received a top-three MVP vote in her career. In my mind, she is this year’s WNBA equivalent of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when it comes to MVP talks.

DeWanna Bonner, Connecticut Sun (+12000)

It’s bananas that Rhyne Howard (16.4 points) of the Atlanta Dream (4-3) and Caitlin Clark (15.6 points) of the Indiana Fever (2-9), each of whom are on teams that currently have a 19.5 win total or lower, have shorter MVP odds than DeWanna Bonner.

In fact, I think there are a few players that Bonner should be ahead of in the MVP conversation.

While a 36-year-old veteran doesn’t exactly scream MVP candidate, the WNBA’s fifth all-time leading scorer has never taken home the hardware and could build a case this season.

Bonner is averaging 19.0 points per game (eighth-most), ranks sixth in net rating and plus/minus, and has the 11th-best PIE in the league. We’ll need to see a better PIE rating for Bonner to have a chance, but she did own the fifth-best PIE among the top-three seeds last season.

The Sun’s perfect record is waiting to be broken, but they’ve at least positioned themself in a spot to own the top seed by the season’s end. If Connecticut somehow manages to outdo both Las Vegas and New York in the regular season, we could likely see a member of the Sun win the hardware. Alyssa Thomas is clearly the frontrunner in this regard, but I wouldn’t rule out Connecticut’s leading scorer, either.

In a race that is ruled by A’ja Wilson and muddled by a few questionable candidates, Bonner could be worth a total dart throw at +12000.

Others

Breanna Stewart (+1500 odds), the league’s reigning MVP, is the obvious candidate we’ve yet to touch base on.

She’s won a pair of MVPs in her career but doesn’t look primed to claim her third one just yet. For starters, the voting body isn’t keen on naming back-to-back winners as Cynthia Cooper (1997, 1998) is the lone player to have done so, which took place in the league’s inaugural years.

It doesn’t help that Stewart’s teammate, Jonquel Jones (+7000 odds; 2021 MVP), is a legit contender in this market, too.

The Seattle Storm have a pair of big-time players in Jewell Loyd (+5000) and Nneka Ogwumike (+4100), but the Storm don’t look set up to sneak into a third-place finish.

Jackie Young (+4100) also has MVP-type numbers, but an MVP nod for Vegas would likely mean an MVP win for Wilson.


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