Despite the Thunder's acquisition of superstar Paul George this offseason, Russell Westbrook sits atop Paddy Power's opening line of odds as the favorite to once again win the MVP award. Along with former teammate Kevin Durant, Westbrook's odds to repeat sit at 7/2.
Last season, Westbrook began the summer with 3/1 odds, behind only (then) two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry at 5/2 odds.
Quite frankly, Westbrook's place atop this list seems odd (no pun intended). While he turned in a historic statline last year, averaging a triple-double, it's hard to imagine he repeats such a feat with George now in the fray.
Additionally, Durant as the co-favorite caught my attention. Playing alongside a fellow superstar in Curry should ensure that each cancels the other out, despite the gaudy numbers both are likely to produce next season.
The oddsmakers appear to have made the necessary adjustments for Curry and James Harden as both will share the floor with one (or more) superstar(s) next season.
It's difficult to pinpoint why exactly Westbrook and Durant's odds are seemingly unaffected by the presence of superstar teammates on their team's respective rosters. Yet if the two are locked in a close battle for the 2017-18 MVP, it should only further the budding rivalry between former teammates.
If I were betting man — which I am not — I'd place a hefty wager on Kawhi Leonard. He continues to add another facet to his game every season and unlike Westbrook, Durant, Curry, Harden or even LeBron James for that matter, Leonard lacks a superstar teammate. Of all the players listed above, Kawhi is the least likely to have an All-Star teammate, and yet, could lead the Spurs to another top two seed and 60-win season.
There's a long way to go before the MVP picture becomes clear and if Kyrie Irving is shipped out of Cleveland, LeBron could certainly become a heavy favorite to take home the award.
But as it currently stands, it's nice to know oddsmakers envision Westbrook as a serious threat to become a repeat winner.