As the current basketball offseason continues, fans have been keeping themselves busy. by predicting who’ll win each of the new year’s individual awards. That includes the NBA Most Improved Player Award, which is given to the player who does what the name implies: shows the most improvement. Last year’s award was given to New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, who set new career-highs in points (24.1) and assists (6.0) per game on his way to being named an NBA All-Star for the first time.
When it comes to who’ll be named NBA Most Improved Player in the 2021-22 season, BetOnline is currently favoring Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. at +900 odds. Porter already showed a lot of improvement last year as he went from being a bench player in 2019-20 to earning a starting role for a majority of the 2020-21 campaign. While his improvements certainly took a lot of pressure off of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, the 23-year-old small forward finished third in Most Improved Player voting without any first-place votes.
However, it wouldn’t be surprising if Porter took another leap in the upcoming season. After all, this will only be his third campaign, so the best might be around the corner. He’s coming off a season that saw him average 19.0 points and rebounds per game with a .663 true shooting percentage, which is impressive for a sophomore. He also went from playing 16 minutes per game as a rookie to 31 last season, so perhaps the Nuggets will trust him with more playing time going forward. After all, Porter even averaged 21.9 points per 36 minutes, so it’d be interesting to see what impact he’d have if he can take another step.
If the Nuggets give Porter more touches and minutes this year, look for him to be involved in the NBA Most Improved Player conversation.
2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player Odds
Odds via BetOnline as of Monday, August 30
- Michael Porter Jr (+900)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1000)
- Zion Williamson (+1200)
- Kevin Porter Jr (+1400)
- Jaylen Brown (+1600)
- Jaren Jackson Jr (+1600)
- Christian Wood (+1800)
- Darius Garland (+1800)
- Collin Sexton (+2000)
- John Collins (+2000)
- Chris Boucher (+2000)
- Immanuel Quickley (+2000)
- Tyrese Maxey (+2000)
Complete odds list is available at BetOnline.ag.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Most Improved Player Odds
If the NBA Most Improved Player Award isn’t given to Porter, the next-likeliest option is Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at +1000 odds. Plantar fasciitis held Gilgeous-Alexander held to just 35 games last year, however, that didn’t stop him from recording his most productive campaign to date. The 23-year-old Canadian averaged 23.7 points on .508/.418/.808 shooting while attempting a career-high 16.1 field goals per game. Had he not been sidelined for most of the season, the rest of the NBA world would surely be talking more about Gilgeous-Alexander.
Nevertheless, Gilgeous-Alexander will be the focal point of a Thunder offense that only has two players older than 26. To put it into context, Oklahoma City’s second-best scorer last season was Al Horford (14.2 PPG) and the team traded him over the offseason. Considering how the Thunder’s roster isn’t much better than last year’s, it wouldn’t be shocking if Gilgeous-Alexander sees a lot more volume in hopes of bringing OKC any success. If he can make that jump, he should have a shot to be named NBA Most Improved Player.
Zion Williamson Most Improved Odds
After being selected first overall in 2019, NBA fans haven’t seen that much of New Orleans Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson. Between pandemic-shortened seasons and some early injuries, the 21-year-old power forward has only played in 85 games over two years. Even though he only played 61 last year, Williamson showed a lot of improvement. He went from averaging 22.5 PPG/6.3 RPG/2.1 APG as a rookie to 27.0 PPG/7.2 RPG/3.7 APG as a sophomore.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Williamson took another step towards superstardom in the 2021-22 NBA season. As mentioned before, he hasn’t even played 100 games yet, so the best is probably yet to come. Two areas that Williamson could improve on are his rebound and assist averages. While they both increased last year, that was due to more playing time. However, his rebounds and assists per 36 minutes averages actually went down. He’ll need to work on a more well-rounded game going forward to compete for the 2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player Award.