Is the NBA Most Improved Player Award Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's to Lose?

Is the NBA Most Improved Player Award Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's to Lose?

With more than halfway of the 2022-23 regular season in the books, the betting for NBA futures is starting to heat up. And while many will focus on the odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals, the year-end awards races are similarly interesting. Some individual honors already seem wrapped up—like Rookie of the Year, for example. But the race to win the NBA Most Improved Player award is a different story.

Sure, linemakers have pegged a clear-cut favorite: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But as the latest NBA online betting odds from Bovada show, he isn't the only viable investment on the table:

MIP WinnerBovada
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander+170
Tyrese Haliburton+360
Lauri Markkanen+550
Anfernee Simons+5000
Desmond Bane+6500
Jordan Poole+8000
Bol Bol+8000
Zion Williamson+10000
Darius Garland+12000
Nicolas Claxton+12000
Anthony Edwards+12000
Keldon Johnson+12000
Jalen Brunson+12000
Devin Vassell+12000

Make sure you continue updating these online NBA betting odds until you actually make your NBA Most Improved Player prediction. Our odds to win the NBA Most Improved Player award are accurate entering Thursday, January 19. The winner will not be voted on until sometime in April, which gives linemakers plenty of time to make adjustments before the final announcement.

Don't worry about staying on top of the latest NBA Most Improved Player betting odds, though. All the work will be done for you if you sign up with the right linemaker. And that's where our reviews of the top online sportsbooks come into play. We provide the lowdown on all the top odds providers, so you'll have no issue spotting the best online NBA betting sites in 2023.

And with that, we turn to what's fast becoming one of the league's most pressing questions: Who are the best bets to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a Worthy Favorite to Win NBA Most Improved Player Honors

Historically, the NBA uses the Most Improved Player award to try and identify the already really good player who has made the superstar leap. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+170) fits that bill and then some.

Luka Doncic, an MVP candidate, is the only player who is scoring more of his points off unassisted buckets. That is a truly incredible number. SGA is also flirting with 30 points per game while knocking down over 50 percent of his twos and shooting the heck out of the ball on drives. What's more, the Thunder have actually outscored their opponents with him on the floor. That's a big deal when most expected them to finish the year as a tanking candidate.

If there's a roadblock to SGA winning this honor, it's the prospect of Oklahoma City falling out of the playoff race and shutting him down prematurely. We don't see that happening. He's tracking toward his first All-Star selection and, likely, All-NBA appearance. He won't be happy if the Thunder risk derailing that just to improve their lottery odds.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To win the NBA Most Improved Player Award

Better Bet to Win NBA MIP This Season: Anfernee Simons or Desmond Bane?

Anfernee Simons (+5500) has been spectacular this season for the Portland Trail Blazers. He's hitting a bunch of threes off the dribble and on the catch, and he's improved his touch on drives and decision-making as a passer.

Still, he's largely the same player he was last year. That doesn't fit the theme of NBA Most Improved Player. In a vacuum, Desmond Bane (+6500) of the Memphis Grizzlies has a much stronger case. He is running more pick-and-rolls than ever while taking on more responsibility as an off-the-dribble shooter and defender.

Why is Bane laying longer odds then? Availability. He missed a huge chunk of the season earlier this year, and voters like to factor in total minutes played. However, he's long since returned, giving him plenty of time to make up ground.

Desmond Bane To win the NBA Most Improved Player Award

Lauri Markkanen is Gaining Serious Momentum in NBA Most Improved Player Race

Lauri Markkanen (+360) is currently averaging 24.8 points while knocking down 59.8 percent of his twos and 42.3 percent of his threes. Here's every player in NBA history who has cleared at least 24 points on those shooting slashes for an entire season:

  • LeBron James (2012-13)
  • Stephen Curry (2017-18)

That's it.

So, yeah, you might say Markkanen is a mega-serious candidate to win this award.

Lauri Markkanen To win the NBA Most Improved Player Award

Is Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers Still a Viable MIP Candidate?

Tyrese Haliburton (+360) was initially laying stronger odds to win this trophy. He led the league in assists per game and really leveled up his efficiency as an off-the-bounce scorer.

Recently, however, he suffered an injury that's expected to sideline him for up to a month. Though that isn't the end of the world, it can make a world of difference in a race that has so many worthwhile candidates. If he isn't back in the Indiana Pacers lineup by the All-Star break, you'll want to approach his Most Improved Player betting odds with caution.

Tyrese Haliburton To win the NBA Most Improved Player Award

Official NBA Most Improved Player Prediction

For us, this ultimately comes down to Lauri Markkanen or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander—two established players who are currently transitioning into full-blown stardom.

While Markkanen has plenty of time to make up ground, his offensive usage isn't nearly as complex as SGA's with the Thunder. SGA is tasked with running the entire offense as both a scorer and playmaker. Markkanen doesn't need to jump-start opportunities for others nearly as often.

And when you consider that SGA beats him out in almost every counting stat, we highly recommend jumping on these odds before they move closer to even money or worse.

OSB Prediction: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+170)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To win the NBA Most Improved Player Award

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your NBA betting:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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