Mid-Season NBA Awards Odds and Analysis: Can Coby White Make a Push For MIP?

With the NBA All-Star Game a thing of the past, teams will now make their push to secure a playoff spot. With lots left to play for, let's set the scene for the NBA Awards markets as we await the return of actual NBA games on Thursday!

Feb 19, 2024 • 17:07 ET • 4 min read
Coby White Chicago Bulls NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The break in the NBA season does not mean you need to take a break from making NBA picks. With about a third of the season remaining, some of the postseason awards markets still offer betting value.

Risk comes with that, obviously, but that is always the case when betting on awards decided by voters rather than on the court.

Join me as I break down the NBA odds for the best NBA awards that are still yet to be decided. 

NBA MVP Favorites

Nikola Jokic (-140 at FanDuel)

The two-time MVP is the odds-on favorite to win a third. Averaging 26.1 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 8.9 assists is certainly a strong enough case on its own, even if the Denver Nuggets have fallen into fourth in the Western Conference and are likely to lose any tiebreakers to two of the three teams ahead of them.

Nikola Jokic is a known commodity, though also still an underrated one. The general public does not appreciate the Serbian enough, partly because he prefers it that way. If there are reasons to doubt his MVP candidacy, it lies in those. When the MVP discourse picks up, Jokic will almost certainly push back against it, preferring to be left alone.

With Denver slipping in the standings — the Suns and Pelicans are each only three games back of the Nuggets, both in just enough range to threaten home-court advantage — Jokic’s chances at a third MVP may dwindle with them.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+210 at FanDuel)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may be only 25, he may play far from national media, and his Canadian background may make him a bit of an unknown yet to the broader public, but Gilgeous-Alexander is the clear frontrunner to be the league’s next face. His was the first name mentioned all weekend in Indianapolis when folks wondered who would take up the mantle from LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant, then followed by Anthony Edwards and Luka Doncic.

Gilgeous-Alexander has the Oklahoma City Thunder 1.5 games back from the No. 1 seed out West, a race with the Minnesota Timberwolves that should last until the last week of the regular season. Given Oklahoma City has the second-youngest roster in the NBA, that position in the standings should be enough to endorse Gilgeous-Alexander’s NBA MVP hopes.

As long as he continues to average north of 30 points (31.1, No. 2 in the NBA behind Doncic’s 34.2), there should be an easy selling point behind Gilgeous-Alexander for any narrative.

NBA MVP Dark Horse

Donovan Mitchell (+15,000 at FanDuel)

Behind Jokic and Gilgeous-Alexander, the third name in the NBA MVP odds is Giannis Anteotokounmpo back at +850. Anyone beyond the top two can be considered a dark horse.

Enter Donovan Mitchell. The Cleveland Cavaliers have gone 18-2 since Jan. 2, moving into firm standing in second from the seventh seed to start 2024. In that stretch, Mitchell has averaged 29 points and seven assists while shooting 37.6 percent from deep.

If the Cavs keep up this torrid pace — at 36-17 right now, let’s say they close a relatively modest 24-5 to end the year 60-22 — then the Celtics would need to finish 17-10 to hold onto pole position in the Eastern Conference. The slim chance of Cleveland pulling off that charge would provide value to this 150-to-1 longshot.

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NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Favorite

Tyrese Maxey (-200 at FanDuel)

Tyrese Maxey has been the odds-on favorite in the Most Improved Player odds category since the first two weeks of the season. When he scored 31 and 34 points in the first two games of the year while dishing out eight and then seven assists, Maxey took the reins on this race. When he scored 50 on Nov. 12 against the Pacers, he effectively won it.

Joel Embiid’s injury did not inherently impact Maxey’s status. The third-year guard is still improved, after all, but it did lessen the attention paid to Maxey on a national level. The Philadelphia 76ers’ season may be spiraling, but he has averaged 25.7 points and 6.4 assists per game, clearing 30 points in 14 games with two of those cracking 50.

NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Dark Horse

Coby White (+410 at FanDuel)

If Maxey has to worry, it will come from slipping into the Play-In Tournament while Coby White leads the Chicago Bulls into the same bracket. White has, arguably, had much less to work with than Maxey, thanks to the Bulls’ continued injury worries.

Yet the fourth-year guard has averaged 19.6 points and 5.3 assists to keep Chicago in playoff contention.

Awards are never taken as literally as their names demand, but if taking “Most Improved” to mean the player who made the biggest jump from 2022-23 to 2023-24, then White would have a strong case. He is averaging 10 points more per game and has nearly doubled his assists output, from 2.8 to 5.3. He started two games last season; he has started every game this year.

Maxey is better than he was a year ago, but his jump has not been anywhere near as distinct as White’s.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Favorites

Malik Monk (-115 at FanDuel)

Malik Monk finished fifth in this voting a year ago. Two of the four ahead of him now start too often, Bobby Portis has fallen off a touch this year (as has pretty much everyone in Milwaukee), and Norman Powell stands third in these odds currently.

Meanwhile, Monk has raised his shooting numbers since arriving in Sacramento. That change marked a moment in Monk’s career, and he is now shooting 37.5 percent from deep on six attempts per game from beyond the arc with an effective field-goal percentage of 54.4 percent.

That is all worth noting for these concerns, along with raising his assists from 3.9 per game to 5.3 and averaging 15.1 points, but it may be even more worth remembering come the postseason.

Tim Hardaway Jr. (+180 at FanDuel)

Hello value. To that end, hello Dallas Mavericks’ surge.

The Mavs won six straight before the All-Star Break, enjoying the No. 1 defensive rating in that stretch. Their offense has found a new rhythm with the deadline additions of P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford, though one may worry that could come at Tim Hardaway Jr.'s expense. He's averaged only 7.7 points in three games with the new pieces.

But assume some balance is found. At that point, Dallas’s push up the standings could boost Hardaway’s Sixth Man candidacy.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year Dark Horse

Caris LeVert (+1,900 at FanDuel)

Caris LeVert’s hopes follow the same path as Mitchell’s for the MVP. If Cleveland continues winning, these thoughts gain traction. During the Cavaliers’ winning ways, LeVert has averaged 12.3 points and 5.2 assists. Those are not inherently astounding numbers, but the wins would be the key piece to focus on here.

NBA Rookie of the Year

Victor Wembanyama (-600 at FanDuel)

Barring an injury to Victor Wembanyama in the next week, he should have the Rookie of the Year Award sewn up. Chet Holmgren looms at +500, but the betting markets have effectively called this race, shifting further toward the French rookie after his triple-double in only 29 minutes last week at Toronto.

That dominating effort — 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 blocks, not to mention five assists and two steals — showcased what Wembanyama’s future could be.

NBA Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert (-700 at FanDuel)

Just like his rookie countryman, Rudy Gobert is all but locked in as an award winner this season, earning his fourth Defensive Player of the Year honor. With the Minnesota Timberwolves atop the season’s defensive ratings, that nod is deserved, particularly since defense has been such a struggle for years in Minnesota.

NBA Clutch Player of the Year

Steph Curry (-160)

Stephen Curry is not the far-and-away favorite that Wembanyama and Gobert are, but he should be.

This is a somewhat vague award on the surface, thus pushing most voters to lean into statistics even more than usual. Curry has played in 33 clutch games this season, averaging five points in them. Only Mikal Bridges has played in more than 20 such games and averaged more than four points in them.

Add in Curry’s name value, and this award should be far more locked up than the odds suggest.

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