He outplayed LeBron James en route to earning the NBA Finals MVP this past June. He took his game to new heights in his first season with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Kevin Durant has surpassed James as the NBA MVP favorite heading into the 2017-18 season.
Westgate Resorts in Las Vegas (h/t CBS Sports) has Durant with 4-to-1 odds to take home the top individual honor. Meanwhile, James himself comes in at 9-to-2. He’s followed in line by Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook, both at 5-to-1 odds.
Interestingly enough, Kyrie Irving’s odds went from 50-to-1 to 15-to-1 after he was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics. Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry currently sits with 10-to-1 odds.
Getting back to the Durant-James dynamic for a second. Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting at a 56 percent clip from the field in the Finals. James put up an equally stunning 33.6/12.0/10.0 slash for the Cavaliers, who lost the series in five games.
It’s looking more and more like the Warriors and Cavaliers will play in the Finals for a fourth consecutive year this upcoming June. It’s also a near certainty that Durant and James will be the two likeliest MVP candidates when that hypothetical series tips off.