The NBA’s summer of 2018 saw major change across the league that will decidedly reshape the landscape in the ’18-19 season and beyond.
LeBron James took his talents to the West Coast as the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers. One of his biggest adversaries, Kawhi Leonard, will now look to claim LeBron’s title as the best player in the East after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for fan favourite DeMar DeRozan.
DeMarcus Cousins, the most talented big man on the free agent market, signed a stunning one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors. And so on…
But despite the change, some things remain the same.
For example, the game’s best player, James, is the odds-on favourite to win the NBA’s MVP award, according to the latest betting lines released by OddsShark on Wednesday.
LeBron is followed — in order — by New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, Milwaukee Bucks phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo (Leonard’s biggest competition for best-in-the-East status), and reigning MVP James Harden.
Leonard lands sixth on the list at +1100 odds, slightly higher than 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook and other formidable candidates including Steph Curry, Joel Embiid and Kyrie Irving.
Leonard arrives in Toronto on the final year of his contract and enters a promising situation. On a deep and talented team returning all but two rotation players from last year’s 59-win first-place club, the 27-year-old former Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year will be given an opportunity to star on both ends of the floor and should give the Raptors their best chance of competing for a spot in the NBA Finals in franchise history.
DeRozan is tied with Washington Wizards point guard John Wall for 14th on the MVP odds list and will look to bolster a Spurs lineup that finished seventh in the West last season with Leonard missing all but nine games due to injury.
The NBA season officially tips off on Oct. 16th, while the Raptors season begins the following night with a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.