NBA MVP Odds 2014: Can LeBron James Catch Kevin Durant?

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterFebruary 4, 2014

NBA MVP Odds 2014: Can LeBron James Catch Kevin Durant?

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    The 2013-14 NBA MVP race has shifted considerably in just two weeks since we last looked at it.

    Kevin Durant extended his streak of 30-plus-point games to 12 before bringing it to a close in the Oklahoma City Thunder's beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets. LeBron James did what he could to state his case opposite the current front-runner, but his Miami Heat fell woefully short anyway.

    Elsewhere, Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul George have continued to put up big numbers while the rest of the field has fallen further and further from the front of the pack.

    We're just a few days into February, so there's still plenty of time for the likes of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Blake Griffin and the Houston Rockets' duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard (among others) to get themselves back into the mix, health permitting.

    For the time being, though, let's focus on the five guys on winning teams who look like realistic MVPs, with betting lines courtesy of Oddschecker.

Stephen Curry

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Betting Odds: 41-1

    Stephen Curry's MVP odds have slipped a bit over the past two weeks, though not entirely through any fault of his own. The starting guard for the Western Conference All-Stars put together arguably the best January of any player not named "Kevin," averaging 27.5 points, 8.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals, with shooting splits of .471/.404/.854.

    Curry's candidacy likely took a hit, though, amidst the Golden State Warriors' sudden struggles. They've followed up their season-high 10-game winning streak by splitting their last 10 outings. As a result, the Dubs have slipped into seventh place in the West, just two games up on the newly minted eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies.

    So long as Curry continues to shoot the lights out, Golden State should be in position to move back up the standings—and solidify Steph's place among potential MVPs as a result.

LaMarcus Aldridge

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    Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

    Betting Odds: 28-1

    The Portland Trail Blazers have cooled off considerably from their scorching-hot start to the 2013-14 NBA season. Not surprisingly, the same could be said of LaMarcus Aldridge's place among MVP contenders.

    Granted, Aldridge is still no worse than a top-five choice for the award, which is a remarkable accomplishment in itself for a 28-year-old who's ticketed for his third All-Star Game. And, to Aldridge's credit, his numbers over Portland's recent "slump" (26.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists in his last seven games) are as phenomenal as they've been all year.

    But the Blazers losing four times (all to Western Conference playoff teams) in seven games can't be good for Aldridge's candidacy, even less so when three of those defeats come by double digits.

Paul George

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Betting Odds: 28-1

    It's no accident that you've heard so little as of late about Paul George being a potential MVP. Over his past four games, during which the Indiana Pacers have alternated wins and losses, George has scored 16 points per night on a troubling 29.3 percent shooting from the field, including 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from three.

    That being said, George is still the best player on the team with the best record in basketball. And, as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, he won't have to want for visibility.

    But if George is going to remain on the MVP's radar, he'll need to get back to being a steady, efficient contributor on both ends of the floor, lest he be left choking on the dust of those racing off ahead of him.

LeBron James

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Betting Odds: 14-5

    Lost amidst the hoopla surrounding Kevin Durant's scoring streak and his role in the Oklahoma City Thunder's stomping of the Miami Heat was the fact that LeBron James actually acquitted himself quite well in that contest. The four-time MVP scored a game-high 34 points on 12-of-20 shooting in just over 42 minutes. Had he stuffed the box score a bit more—he finished the evening with three assists, three rebounds and three turnovers—he might've gotten a bit more dap.

    And, at least in the case of the helpers, James can't be blamed entirely for the collective 3-of-19 the Heat tallied from three, many of which would've otherwise been assisted by LBJ.

    To his credit, James didn't waste any time making up for the lost opportunity. Three nights later, he captivated the crowd at Madison Square Garden by piling up 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a 15-point pummeling of the New York Knicks.

Kevin Durant

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    Betting Odds: 1-20

    That's right, folks; the betting corners of the Internet have upped Kevin Durant to a 1-20 favorite to be the NBA's MVP.

    Which, for the uninitiated, means that if you wanted to put money on KD taking home his first Maurice Podoloff Trophy at season's end, you'd have to spend $20 to earn a single George Washington on top of your bet.

    That degree of favoritism may seem preposterous, given that Durant plays in a league with LEBRON FRICKIN' JAMES, but considering where the race stands today, the fact that KD's got such a substantial lead shouldn't come as a complete shock.

    Simply put, Durant's January was a sight to behold. The three-time scoring champ became the first player since Michael Jordan to average at least 35 points, six rebounds and six assists over the course of an entire calendar month.

    And even that doesn't tell the full story of how great KD was. He posted shooting splits of .540/.411/.896 for the month, turned in 12 consecutive games of 30 points or more and led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 12-5 record in the games that he played.

    All without Russell Westbrook, mind you.

    I won't condone gambling here, but I will say that there are worse things you could with $20 right now than put it on Durant to be the MVP.

    Even if it means you wind up only one dollar richer.

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