2017 NBA All-Star Game: Who Has the Best Chance of Taking Home MVP Honors?

Can Russell Westbrook pull off a three-peat in New Orleans?

Most would probably say that trying to figure out who the Most Valuable Player of the NBA All-Star Game will be is an unpredictable event. Not only do players play different, but they do so with less minutes and a higher pace. Oftentimes, the winner comes out of nowhere.

While that's mainly true, there's actually some type of inexact science to it. You can see why by taking a look at Las Vegas' odds on the award, according to Bovada.

Team Player Odds Team Player Odds
WEST Russell Westbrook 7/2 EAST DeMar DeRozan 28/1
WEST Stephen Curry 6/1 EAST Carmelo Anthony 45/1
WEST Anthony Davis 13/2 EAST Kyle Lowry 45/1
WEST Kevin Durant 7/1 WEST Klay Thompson 45/1
WEST James Harden 7/1 EAST John Wall 45/1
EAST LeBron James 7/1 WEST DeMarcus Cousins 55/1
EAST Kyrie Irving 15/2 WEST Draymond Green 55/1
EAST Giannis Antetokounmpo 11/1 WEST DeAndre Jordan 65/1
WEST Kawhi Leonard 15/1 EAST Kemba Walker 65/1
EAST Isaiah Thomas 15/1 WEST Gordon Hayward 70/1
EAST Jimmy Butler 22/1 WEST Marc Gasol 80/1
EAST Paul George 25/1 EAST Paul Millsap 80/1

Are these odds reflective of those players with the best chance to take home the award? With the support of box scores and advanced numbers from the last 10 MVP performances, I would say (for the most part) no.

Thanks to RealGm, we know what to expect from the MVP in recent years. We see some distinct trends in points, threes and field goal attempts, but also in metrics like usage percentage and hands on buckets. For those unfamiliar, hands on buckets (HOB) is the percentage of field goals a player is directly involved in as a scorer or passer.

Starting with HOB, we'll narrow down the 24 All-Stars by category. Utilizing their 2016-17 numbers, we'll do this until we reach the final few and, ultimately, the most likely winner.

Cut 1: HOB

In the last 10 years, the MVP had less than a 27.4% HOB just 2 times. Up against that type of probability, six players are immediately eliminated, including Paul George and Klay Thompson.

That brings the player pool to 18.

Cut 2: Usage

In the same span, 7 of 10 MVPs have had a usage rate of at least 28.2%. That knocks out four others according to this season's numbers, including Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler.

That leaves 14 players, including 7 of the top 8 candidates, according to betting odds.

Cut 3: Points

Needless to say, points are crucial in an All-Star Game. So much so that only 1 player has tallied less than 27 points in an MVP performance. As a result of that high threshold, we cut eight players from contention. That group is made up of big names like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, among others.

With that, here's where we stand.

Russell Westbrook7/2
Anthony Davis13/2
James Harden7/1
Isaiah Thomas15/1
DeMar DeRozan28/1
DeMarcus Cousins55/1

The numbers agree with 4 of Vegas' top 10. However, they like both DeMar DeRozan and DeMarcus Cousins at much lower odds. So, they wouldn't be bad bets.

Cut 4: Threes

All-Star games see a lot of three-point shots go up, warranted or not. But, one thing rings true: only 1 MVP (Dwyane Wade) has failed to make any threes and 9 of the last 10 have converted on at least a pair of them.

That eliminates half the remaining field, leaving Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Isaiah Thomas. Of the three, Thomas is clearly the best value, at 15/1.

Cut 5: Field Goal Attempts

Seven of the last 10 MVPs have hoisted at least 22 field goal attempts. Westbrook is the only player averaging that many attempts through the first part of the regular season.


It's not astonishing that the numbers agree with Westbrook as the most likely winner. After all, he's won the award the last two seasons and has a style of play that's tailor-made for All-Star games.

Of the 3 players at 7/1 odds, Harden appears to be the best bet, given his usage, scoring and three-point prowess. Meanwhile, IT2 -- with his outstanding play and ability to shoot and dish -- is possibly the best value on the board.

Who will actually take home the hardware? We'll find out on Sunday night.