The NBA’s Most Improved Player Award is given to the player who makes a significant jump from their play in the previous season to the current one. New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram won the award last NBA season after going from averaging 18.3/5.1/3.0 to 23.8/6.1/4.2.
It’s also one of the more difficult NBA awards to hand out. Improvement can be subjective, which can lead to a lot of debates. Not everyone may agree that a specific player made a bigger jump than others.
Nevertheless, Bovada currently has New York Knicks forward Julius Randle being favored to win the 2021 Most Improved Player Award at -200. He’s one of the more prominent reasons why the Knicks have been able to compete for a playoff spot this season.
Last season, Randle averaged 19.5/9.7/3.1 with .460/.277/.515 shooting splits. However, he’s looked like a completely different player this year. Randle’s averaging 22.9/10.8/6.0 on .464/.409/.486 splits. This type of play had him making the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in his career this season. Randle will need to continue playing at this level for the remainder of the season if he wants a shot at winning the award. The same could be said if he wants the Knicks to make the playoffs because the team’s success relies on him.
NBA Odds: Most Improved Player Award
Odds via Bovada as of Tuesday, April 6
- Julius Randle -200
- Jerami Grant +175
- Christian Wood +1500
- Zion Williamson +3000
- Zach LaVine +4500
- Jaylen Brown +5500
Complete odds available at Bovada.lv.
Can Grant Become the NBA Most Improved Player?
Up until this season, Jerami Grant spent his first six NBA seasons playing lesser roles on three different teams. In November 2020, he signed a three-year, $60 million to join a Detroit Pistons team that would make him the focal point of the offense.
And it’s worked.
In the 2019-20 NBA Season, Grant averaged 12.0/3.5/1.2 with the Denver Nuggets. However, it’s a bit of a different story in Detroit. With nobody like Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray to compete with, Grant’s averaging 22.4/4.8/2.9 while playing more minutes than he ever has (34.5 minutes per game). One thing that could hold Grant back is that he’s shooting worse this season than he was in 2020. However, that could also be attributed to the fact that he’s taking more shots per game this season (17.3) than he was in 2019-20 (8.9). Regardless, Grant has positioned himself where he can catch Randle in odds if the latter begins to slip up.
Wood Losing Ground in Most Improved Player Race
Towards the beginning of the 2020-21 NBA Season, Christian Wood was projected to have a breakout season with the Houston Rockets. After the team traded away James Harden, fans and experts began to wonder if that would lead to more ball touches and scoring opportunities for Wood.
At first, it did. Back in January, Wood was averaging 23.3 points per game. Unfortunately, ankle issues derailed his momentum back in February, leaving Wood to suit up for just 27 of a possible 50 games this season.
Wood hasn’t performed as well as he was before his injury, averaging around 19.0 ppg between March and April. That’s not to say that Wood can’t win the NBA Most Improved Player Award. If he can play like he was back in January for the rest of the season, his odds could improve. It’s just that the road is that much harder for him. Randle and Grant have made serious improvements over the season.
It’s up to Wood to see if he can catch them over the remainder of the season.