Nearing the end of a season where competitive parity appears to be at an all-time high, the breakout of a new star player could spell the difference between playoffs and lottery balls, or championship aspirations being dreams vs. reality for a number of teams.
The NBA's Most Improved Player odds are usually tight at this point in the season, but a couple of standouts are making the league recognize in what's become a two-horse race.
The NBA odds now favor Lauri Markkanen, who's leveled up yet again to surpass former odds-on leader Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. See who else is among the NBA MIP contenders.
Odds to win NBA Most Improved Player
|Player||Team||Most Improved Player Odds|
|Lauri Markkanen||Utah Jazz||-425|
|Shai-Gilgeous Alexander||Oklahoma City Thunder||+310|
|Jalen Brunson||New York Knicks||+1,400|
|Mikal Bridges||Brooklyn Nets||+5,000|
|Tyrese Haliburton||Indiana Pacers||+15,000|
|Nicolas Claxton||Brooklyn Nets||+30,000|
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook as of March 22, 2023.
Favorites to win NBA Most Improved Player
Lauri Markkanen (-425)
The Utah Jazz were one of the NBA's pleasant surprises this season, and chief among the many guys playing well above their projection has been Lauri Markkanen, who's managed to continue raising his game.
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 25.4 ppg to lead the Jazz.
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 effectively playing out-of-position as a small forward in Cleveland, the optics are great for his narrative.
Better yet for Markkanen's candidacy, he's made a leap within a leap, averaging better than 27.3 ppg in 2023, further boosting what was already an MIP-esque scoring bump.
His ability to find another gear while firmly in the Most Improved conversation has set him apart from the rest of the field.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+550)
We're sure plenty of people hadn'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. 31/5/6 will do that. Gilgeous-Alexander's getting to the line for a career-high 10.8 free throws per game, and hitting them at a stellar .904 clip.
SGA's also putting up career highs in steals and blocks, averaging 2.7 combined. Meanwhile, the Thunder have been surprisingly competitive this season, within play-in striking distance.
Regardless of 2023's outcome, this team will be a force behind Shai before long.
Looking to bet on some NBA action? Here are two of the best bonuses* available:
A) New users at FanDuel can get a no-sweat first bet up to $1,000! Sign Up Now
B) Get a profit boost (up to 100%) on one NBA same-game parlay at DraftKings! Opt-in Now
*Eligible USA locations only. Also, check out our full list of best sportsbook promotions for 2023.
21+. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER
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 MIP betting trends
Here are some trends you'll want to consider when betting on NBA Most Improved Player futures:
- Guards and forwards have split the last 12 MIP awards evenly. No true center has won since Jermaine O'Neal in 2002.
- MIP has tended to favor players making "the leap" to stardom recently. Eight of the past nine winners have averaged 20.0 ppg or more.
- In a very weird coincidence, an Orlando Magic player has won MIP four times since 1999, and each time, an Indiana Pacer has won the award the following year.
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.