It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been in the past, if you have a breakthrough season, you can get some recognition around the Association. The NBA is keen on making new stars and this award does just that.
Why? So, let’s say you were a big prospect and had an underwhelming rookie year. Your stock is down, but then you get a year where you fulfill that potential.
The NBA gives you an award, and then, all of a sudden, you are under the spotlight once again, and your career is alive. Cool, isn’t it?
Basically, that’s the Most Improved Player award, and hence it is very unpredictable. Which makes it spicier, and also juicier to bet on.
This article serves as a guide for you to bet on who will win the Most Improved Player in the upcoming 2021 NBA season.
Just as many other awards within the NBA, the winner is determined by a panel of sports journalists throughout the USA and Canada.
Each one of them casts a vote for first, second, and third-place picks. Each first-place vote is worth five points. The second-place votes are worth three points. And finally, the third-place selections equal one point.
The player with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, is the MIP.
Like we said before, you can have some sort of notion as to who can make the leap into superstardom. But, declaring a massive favorite is a trickier task.
Pretty much any player that isn’t a star can win this if they go ballistic in the season. The team’s record doesn’t matter as much, although it helps. This is different. It’s more of a “get the spotlight now” situation.
Let’s take a look at some of the names that we can infer are poised to get into the mix!
Michael Porter Jr. – MPJ is a baller. Flat out baller. When Nuggets’ PG Jamal Murray went down, Denver was a huge question mark. Porter Jr. was having a good season, but with that injury, he stepped up.
Drafted as a top prospect who was banged up with injuries, MPJ played 61 games out of the 72 last season. He scored 19 points a game on 54% of FG effectiveness, and 45% from three while attempting 6.3 three-pointers a game.
He also raised his rebound tally to 7.3 a night. Only 22 years of age, a healthy season, and a mighty potential to fulfill, MPJ is bound for a massive 2021.
Kevin Porter Jr. – This is an interesting name. Being able to play on both SG and SF positions, Kevin Porter Jr. can be a name to mark.
The Rockets drafted the second overall pick in Jalen Green, which will bring eyes to Houston. It’s on KPJ to steal those eyes from Green and put them on him.
It’s his third year in the league, but the second in Houston. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists. That is a more than good season considering he was on the worst team in basketball.
Say he ups his output into a 20 piece with more or less the same number of assists. If that happens, KPJ could easily be in the conversation for MIP.
Collin Sexton – The Young Bull Collin Sexton had a magnificent third season. The Cavs were atrocious—surprise, surprise—but Sexton was scoring left and right, up, down, and center. He missed 12 games, but still averaged 24.3 points per night.
With 4.4 assists, there is room for improvement in other areas. His main focus to win MIP should be retaining his scoring prowess, elevating his assists tally, and being able to lower his turnovers.
He has increased his turnovers each season, which is a bad thing. In 2020, he turned the ball over 2.8 times a game and that’s not how you win MIP. He is a bit raw in his passing, but Sexton is a solid player on a bad franchise. The spotlight is on him.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Entering his fourth year in the NBA, SGA has a bright future in this league. His MIP stock is nothing to ignore, although the odds may be higher on him than what they should. He is coming off a career year of 23.7 points and 5.9 assists.
That’s tough to beat. Something in his favor is the fact that he only played 35 games last year, that’s less than half a season. This means that if he can replicate these stats over a lot more games, he can be a name to consider.
Zion Williamson – Talk about a big sophomore year for Zion Williamson. He was dominant, and an absolute force to be reckoned with. It’s difficult to see Williamson winning the MIP.
He was an All-Star in 2021, played in 61 out of 72 games, and averaged 27 a night. Unreal. Add 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists and it’s not if he can win MIP, the question is if he can deliver another All-Star season.
Christian Wood – Ok, you see a trend now? Houston is poised to be so very bad, that if one player makes them even worth watching, they have a shot at winning the MIP.
Wood was their best player in 2020, point-blank. The big man has been in the league since 2015, but it was until last season that he got some light to shine on.
He could’ve been the MIP last season, actually. He went from a 13/6/1 stat line in 2019 to a 21/9/1 in 2020. Imagine what another great season could do for him.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker – New Orleans is in a spot where they can fight to get at least into the play-in tournament, but in order to do so, they need some players to take a leap. One of those is SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
The cousin of another MIP contender in SGA, Alexander-Walker had a discreet season. He scored 11 a night with three rebounds and 2.2 assists.
He needs to be better, and by better, we mean prolific. The team has Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram as main scorers, but the Canadian youngster needs to be more aggressive.
He was shooting 10 times per game, only played in 46 games, and was mainly used on the second squad. Being in the rotation part is better for him. He needs to dominate the ball and produce buckets.
Darius Garland – The Cavs have an exciting backcourt in the duo of Garland and Sexton. For MIP, Sexton is a favorite, Garland is a contender. It’s that exciting. They are undersized, but this is not a team analysis. It’s an individual accolade.
Garland is a good shooter, averaging nearly 40% from three, and he also provided 6.1 assists per outing. Get Garland going and you’ll see a player with huge upside.
It is an interesting player to bet on since the Cavs are not a team that gathers many eyes, but if Garland is playing lights out, he will be in the mix.
Jaylen Brown – This one is a bit of a surprise. Brown was playing at the peak of his powers last season, even being an All-Star prospect. Injuries ended his season.
Before that, he was lighting defenses up, putting up 24.7 points nightly. Never mind his six rebounds, it was his scoring that did all the damage.
Brown was getting his star recognition, shooting 19 times per game. It was his task to take over and get the Celtics wins.
Unfortunately, he only played 58 games, missing 14, which is a pretty big mark for a team that desperately needed his scoring. If Brown can get healthy and repeat his stat line, he can definitely turn into a MIP favorite.
|Year||Player||Team||Stat line (PPG, RPG, APG)|
|2020||Julius Randle||New York Knicks||24 / 10 / 6|
|2019||Brandon Ingram||New Orleans Pelicans||23 / 6 / 4|
|2018||Pascal Siakam||Toronto Raptors||17 / 4.5 / 2|
|2017||Victor Oladipo||Indiana Pacers||23 / 4.3 / 4|
|2016||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Milwaukee Bucks||23 / 8.8 / 5.4|
|2015||CJ McCollum||Portland Trail Blazers||20.8 / 3.2 / 4.3|
|2014||Jimmy Butler||Chicago Bulls||20 / 5.8 / 3.3|
|2013||Goran Dragić||Phoenix Suns||20.3 / 3.2 / 5.9|
|2012||Paul George||Indiana Pacers||17.4 / 7.6 / 4|
|2011||Ryan Anderson||Orlando Magic||16 / 7.7 / 0.9|
To bet on this award, follow this step-by-step guide:
1. Go to your favorite sportsbook and log into your account.
2. Select the ‘Betting On NBA’ tab.
3. Go to the ‘Player Futures’ drop-down menu.
4. Click on ‘Most Improved Player.’
5. Submit your bet and on the bet-slip window.