As we're into a season where competitive parity appears to be at an all-time high, the breakout of a new star player could be the difference between playoffs and lottery balls, or championship aspirations being dreams or reality for a number of teams.
The NBA's Most Improved Player odds are usually tight at this point in the season, but one particular standout is making the league serve notice.
The early NBA odds suggest Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has next. See who else is among the NBA MIP contenders.
Odds to win NBA Most Improved Player
|Player||Odds to win Most Improved Player|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook as of November 22, 2022.
Favorites to win NBA Most Improved Player
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (-130)
We're sure plenty of people haven't been paying attention because, well, you know, Thunder, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a f***ing problem.
SGA put up fairly gaudy numbers each of the past two seasons, but his presence on a small-market tanking franchise not only limited his exposure but his actual time on the court as OKC shut him down late in the season.
Well, Shai wasn't having it this season. He's putting everyone on notice. 31.1 ppg on .526 shooting as a guard will do that. Gilgeous-Alexander's getting to the line for a career-high 8.2 free throws per game, and hitting them at a stellar .908 clip.
SGA's also putting up career highs in steals and blocks, averaging an absurd 3.2 combined. If he keeps putting up these numbers, no amount of Thunder losses will prevent the masses from knowing he's the truth.
Lauri Markkanen (+300)
The Utah Jazz have unquestionably been the pleasant surprise of the early season, and chief among the many guys playing above their preseason projection is Lauri Markkanen.
Cast aside by the Bulls and Cavs, the 7-foot Finn is having a renaissance in Utah. He's matching or besting his career highs in virtually every box score stat, including 22.4 ppg to lead the Jazz who, against every conceivable notion, have the best record in the West.
Markkanen's rebounding rate is also up noticeably from last year's anemic pace, and while that may have as much to do with him no longer playing out-of-position as an effective small forward in Cleveland, the optics are great for an MIP narrative.
Tyrese Haliburton (+1,200)
Tyrese Haliburton has a great profile to win MIP. He's an obviously talented youngster with a diverse skill set and brilliant IQ, who was heavily handicapped by his surroundings in Sacramento — both in terms of his opportunity and the tire-fire organizational culture.
Given a midseason change of scenery in Indiana, he blossomed, and is taking the next step in 2022-23.
So far, he's made the most of his central role in the Pacers' offense, averaging 20.4 points and an NBA-leading 10.7 assists about as efficiently as possible while piloting surprise Indiana into the playoff picture.
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Understanding NBA Most Improved Player odds
Most sportsbooks will display odds in the American format as listed above. We'll use 2019-20's Rookie of the Year race as an example:
As the season progressed, with Ja Morant having been a huge favorite, his odds had a minus (-) sign ahead of the number:
- Ja Morant -500
This means that a bettor needs to wager $500 to win $100. Other candidates with worse odds would have a plus (+) sign ahead of the number. Early in the season, before any clear favorite is established, betting options will be listed as such:
- Zion Williamson +650
Here, a bettor stands to profit $650 for every $100 wagered.
If American odds aren't your thing, simply use our odds converter to switch the odds to decimal or fractional format. Most online sportsbooks also give you the option to change the odds format that you see.
NBA Most Improved Player history
|Year||NBA Most Improved Winner|
NBA Most Improved Player odds FAQ
Ja Morant of the Grizzlies won last year's MIP award. No player has ever won in consecutive seasons.
The Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic have both had five players win MIP.
Generally no, but no true center has won since Jermaine O'Neal in 2002.