Why New York Bettors Can’t Wager On Individual Player Award Futures Like NBA MVP

Written By Mike Mazzeo on January 25, 2022
NBA Brooklyn Nets Kevin Durant

As 2021 turned to 2022, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant had been neck and neck with ex-teammate Stephen Curry in the NBA MVP odds race.

But Durant suffered a sprained MCL on Jan. 15 that could keep him out for four to six weeks, all but taking him out of the running.

Currently, Durant sits at +2500 at Caesars Sportsbook and +3500 at FanDuel.

“Whenever you have an injury like this and you lose that amount of time, it’s quite big,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading at Caesars, said in a statement. “Other players are going to get the opportunity to pass you up if you’re not playing. And when he does come back, will he be restricted leading up to the playoffs? That’s the tough part of betting these awards markets, injuries just play such a huge role.”

Of course, none of this matters in New York. Due to state regulations, you can’t place a futures bet on NBA MVP. Or any individual award.

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Why you can’t bet on NBA MVP in New York

As per the rules and regulations governing NY online sports betting, bets can’t be placed on any award (NBA MVP, MLB Cy Young, Heisman Trophy, etc) that requires a vote to determine the winner.

So when Super Bowl betting makes its way to New York in a few weeks, don’t expect to see a prop bet on which player will win the game’s MVP.

It is, essentially, an integrity issue — that voters could conceivably collude to determine the winner.

(From personal experience, as a member of the BBWAA who has voted for MLB awards in the past, it’s something I took very seriously, poring over stats and having conversations with baseball people to make sure I gave everyone a fair shot before reaching a decision.)

In New Jersey, however, bettors are permitted to wager on individual player awards.

How NBA MVP race stacks up

Curry remains the favorite across the board. As of Tuesday, he is listed as high as +230 at DraftKings.

Behind Curry are the likes of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (+250), Denver’s Nikola Jokic (+475), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (+500), Memphis’ Ja Morant (+1100), Durant (+2200) and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan (+3500).

Jokic might have the best case of anyone in the group at the moment, as he attempts to repeat as the MVP winner. He is averaging 25.9 points, 13.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists while ranking first in ESPN’s metric PER (33.06).

Embiid’s stock rose with his recent 50-point performance in just 27 minutes. In fact, he averages nearly 34 points and 10.5 rebounds in January alone. Morant has been the biggest reason why the Grizzlies have been the biggest surprise in the NBA to date. Antetokounmpo has won MVP twice, as has Curry.

Durant, who won MVP in 2013-14, had been leading the league in scoring (29.3 ppg) at the time he got hurt.

But with so many other contenders in the running, it’ll likely be too difficult for him to make up the gap missing so much time.

Photo by AP / Eric Gay
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Mike Mazzeo

Mike Mazzeo is the Lead Writer for PlayNY, arriving after covering several of New York's professional sports teams in a variety of roles for the past decade. Previously, he served as a beat writer and columnist covering the Brooklyn Nets (ESPN) and New York Yankees (New York Daily News). Mike also covered both the MLB and NBA nationally for Yahoo Sports. In addition, he served as a general assignment reporter for ESPN NewYork.com. He has also had bylines in the New York Times, New York Post, Newsday, Forbes and The Ringer. With PlayNY, Mike brings extensive coverage and unique story angles to what is projected to be one of the biggest and most lucrative online sports betting markets in the country. It's been an arduous and confounding process to get here, but 20 million New Yorkers (many of them die-hards) are now legally able to bet on their favorite sports teams across the state via online and mobile platforms.

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