The 2021-22 NBA season is well underway at this point, showcasing a variety of different storylines. Among those, we’ve seen some players take a step back from their usual production while others have increased theirs. When it comes to the latter, the player who shows the most progress is given the NBA Most Improved Player Award at the end of the season.
While there’s still a long way to go before the season is over, Bovada’s MIP odds shed some light as to who’s leading the race heading into December. As it stands, those honors go to Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant.
Morant may only be in the third year of his NBA career, however, he’s looked like a seasoned veteran this season. He went from averaging 19.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists last season to 25.5 PTS/5.8 REB/7.0 AST through his first 17 games this season. He’s also recorded four double-doubles on the year and has come close to a triple-double multiple times.
Beyond that, Morant’s .479/.360/.780 shooting splits are career-bests in each category and it’s clear that the Grizzlies are trusting him more with the ball judging by his 19.9 field goal attempts per game. Another thing that makes his campaign even more impressive is that he leads all NBA players with 14.8 points per game in the paint — something that rarely happens for point guards.
If Morant continues down this path, it’ll be hard for the league to consider anyone else as this year’s NBA Most Improved Player.
2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player Odds
Odds via Bovada as of Wednesday, November 24
- Ja Morant (+160)
- Miles Bridges (+300)
- Tyler Herro (+900)
- Cole Anthony (+2000)
- Dejounte Murray (+2200)
- Anthony Edwards (+2500)
- Jordan Poole (+2500)
- OG Anunoby (+2800)
- Tyrese Maxey (+3000)
- Darius Garland (+5000)
- LaMelo Ball (+5000)
The complete odds list is available at Bovada.lv.
Miles Bridges MIP Odds
Another player who’s made strides this season is Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, who has +300 odds to be named NBA Most Improved Player this season.
A former first-round selection, Bridges was never a primary scorer throughout his first three NBA seasons. Up until this year, his career-best PPG was 13.0. However, something seems to be clicking within him, which has led to him averaging career-highs in rebounds (7.4), assists (3.3) and points (20.8) — with his scoring average also leading all Charlotte players.
Bridges is also playing an average of 36.8 minutes per game, whereas his previous career-high was 30.7 in 2019-20. He’s also started as many games this season (19) as he did last year, which goes to show that he truly has become one of the focal points on the Hornets. His shooting splits (.449/.321/.750) have gone down compared to last year (.503/.400/.867), however, he should still remain in the NBA Most Improved Player race unless his production falls off a cliff.
Tyler Herro Most Improved Player Odds
Miami Heat shooting guard Tyler Herro was one of the most talked-about players during the NBA Bubble a couple of seasons ago. Unfortunately, he didn’t take that much of a step forward last season, leading some to be disappointed in his progress.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 NBA season and Herro has become the player that many hoped he’d be. As a result, he now owns the third-best odds (+900) to win this year’s NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Herro’s 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game on the year are both career-highs. What’s also impressive is that the 22.1 points that he’s averaging lead all Heat players who aren’t named “Jimmy Butler.” Even then, the 21-year-old is averaging just 2.4 fewer points than the seasoned veteran, which is impressive on its own. Adding onto that, he’s scored at least 20 points in just over 70% of the games he’s played this year.
Nevertheless, the one thing holding Herro back from being named Most Improved Player is that his improvements aren’t as big as those of Morant and Bridges. Yes, what’s he’s doing is still impressive, however, he’ll need to do a lot more to take home this award.