A number of clubs’ chances of making the playoffs or contending for a title are on the line as the season winds down, and the emergence of Markkanen as a new star player might be the difference.
The NBA’s Most Improved Player odds are typically slim at this point in the season, but this year, the race has narrowed to a two-horse contest thanks to the play of two exceptional players.
According to NBA betting odds, Lauri Markkanen is currently more heavily favored than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Check out the other NBA MVP candidates.
Favorites to win NBA Most Improved Player
Lauri Markkanen (-425)
The Utah Jazz were one of the NBA’s pleasant shocks this season, and top among the many people playing well above their forecast has been Lauri Markkanen, who’s managed to continue upgrading his game.
After being waived by the Bulls and Cavaliers, the 7-foot Finnish center is finding new life with the Jazz. He is averaging 25.4 points per game, which is good for first on the Jazz and a career high.
Markkanen’s rebounding rate is also significantly higher than it was last year, which is great for his narrative even if it is partially attributable to his no longer effectively playing out-of-position as a small forward in Cleveland.
In addition to his MIP-like scoring boost, Markkanen has made an even bigger jump in 2023, averaging over 27.3 points per game.
He has separated himself from the competition by finding yet another gear while already being considered for Most Improved.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+550)
We realize that many people have been preoccupied with Thunder, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a major problem.
Despite putting up impressive numbers over the past two seasons, SGA’s exposure was stunted by the fact that he played for a small-market tanking franchise and was eventually benched by OKC.
This year, however, Shai was having none of it. His warning should be taken seriously. 31/5/6 will do that. Gilgeous-Alexander is shooting an incredible from the free throw line, averaging 10.8 attempts per game, good for a career-high. 904 clip.
The combined steal and block average for SGA is at a career-high of 2.7. On the other hand, the Thunder have been remarkably competitive this year, even coming within striking distance of a play-in game at one point.
This group will quickly become an effective force in support of Shai, no matter what happens in 2023.
Analyzing the Odds of Winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award
The odds displayed by most bookmakers will be in the American format described above. As an illustration, let’s look at the voting for Rookie of the Year in 2019-2020:
Ja Morant started the season as a heavy favorite. Hence the odds for him had a negative (-) symbol before the number:
Ja Morant -500
A bettor would need to risk $500 in order to win $100. The odds for other candidates would be shown by a plus sign (+) before the corresponding number.
Zion Williamson +650
In this case, for every $100 gambled, the possible return is $650.
Easily convert from American odds to decimal or fractional format with our NBA betting guides odds converter. You can also adjust the odds display settings at most online sportsbooks.
NBA MIP betting trends
If you’re interested in betting on the NBA Most Improved Player award, here are some patterns to keep in mind:
- Every one of the last 12 MIPs has been awarded to either a guard or a forward. Since Jermaine O’Neal in 2002, no true center has won.
- Players making the “jump” to the next level often fared well in MIP. The last eight champions all had winning averages of at least 20.0 points per game.
- To add to the strangeness, every time an Orlando Magic player has won MIP since 1999, the following year, it has gone to a player from the Indiana Pacers.