Betting Odds: Top 3 Candidates For NBA Most Improved Player

There have been some incredible performances around the NBA this season, with several players taking that next step from very good to great; from star to All-Star-level or even greater.   

The top three that fit into that category qualify as the top candidates to win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award for 2022-23. Let's have a look at their credentials:

Jalen Brunson

The New York Knicks' sparkplug has led the team back to the playoffs this season, and with it, has made himself a case for MIP. Brunson, as noted by Ian Begley, is one of only two players in the league averaging at least 23.5 points per game (24.0), 6.0 assists (6.2) and 3.5 rebounds while shooting at least 48% on FG and 40% from three. The other? Steph Curry.

Certainly, his coach makes a strong pitch for him as well: “He’s made a quantum leap this year,” Tom Thibodeau said. “When you look at his shot profile, outstanding. He’s getting to the line more, he’s shooting more threes, he’s playmaking, he’s creating easy offense for us...

"He has all the attributes that you value: he’s tough, he’s smart, can think on his feet, dedicated to his craft, competitive.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard has catapulted himself into the superstar realm this season. His 31.5 PPG average ranks him 4th in the league in scoring, and is up a full seven points per game from last year. He's also averaging 4.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. His performance has helped lead the Thunder to a 15-win increase from last season, and they are one win away (or a Dallas loss) from clinching an unexpected return to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

He's also averaging one block and 1.7 steals per game on the defensive end.

At +220, SGA is currently ranked second in betting odds for the award (according to DraftKings). Only one player has better odds right now: 

Lauri Markkanen

The Utah Jazz breakout star has staked his claim on the MIP by bumping his scoring by a whopping nine points per game, to 25.6, after coming over from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Donovan Mitchell trade last offseason.  

Markkanen is also averaging 8.6 rebounds per game, and has a chance to be the only player in the NBA this year to average 25+ points per game while shooting at least 50% from the field (he's at 49.9% with one game to play) and 40% from long distance (he's at 39.1%). 

Markkanen is the betting favorite currently at -300.

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports