The 2022-23 NBA season is here, and as such, we’re already beginning to turn our attention to the award races for this year.
The Most Improved Player award is arguably the most entertaining to follow throughout the season. Some of the league’s youngest stars are in contention as they make the leap from good to great. Last year, Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant won the award after boosting his scoring average from 19.1 points to 27.4 per game.
This year’s pool of potential winners features big names and small, and as it stands, the race appears wide-open.
NBA Most Improved Player Odds 2023
These NBA gameday odds are current as of Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. ET and courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+350)
- Tyrese Maxey (+440)
- Lauri Markkanen (+600)
- Tyrese Haliburton (+1100)
- Desmond Bane (+1200)
- Keldon Johnson (+3000)
- Anthony Edwards (+3500)
- Devin Vassell (+3500)
- De’Aaron Fox (+4800)
- Zion Williamson (+6000)
- Anfernee Simons (+6500)
- Cade Cunningham (+6500)
- Bol Bol (+6500)
NBA Most Improved Player Favorites
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder (+350)
Gilgeous-Alexander wasn’t considered to be much of a threat in this race before the season began, but as it stands, it’s his to lose. The 24-year-old’s red-hot start to the year has been a blast to watch from a neutral perspective. He’s becoming one of the premier stat-stuffers in the league.
Gilgeous-Alexander is putting up All-Star caliber numbers through his first nine games, averaging 30.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game. The ultra-long guard is also logging 2.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
If he can keep this level of production up, SGA could earn his first All-Star nod and potentially the NBA’s Most Improved Player award as well.
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (+440)
Maxey made a huge leap from his first year to his second, and it appears he’s not done there. After averaging 17.8 points per game with the 76ers in 2021-22, Maxey is now up to 23.6 to begin the year.
He hasn’t been as efficient as he was this past season, but that’s understandable given the larger role he’s been thrust into this year. Various absences from Joel Embiid and James Harden have also boosted his stock a bit.
I’m not as sold on Maxey winning this award as I am on others, because his ceiling is capped a bit by Embiid and Harden. But if either one of them continues to miss significant time, Maxey will deserve to be a prominent player in this race.
NBA Most Improved Player Contenders
Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz (+600)
Not even Jazz fans saw this surge coming from Utah this season, and I can only assume that even fewer thought that Lauri Markkanen would look like an All-Star at this point in the year. However, we’re nearly a month into it now, and that’s very much the case.
The 25-year-old forward is averaging a career-high 21.9 points to go along with 8.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. All of those figures are drastic improvements over the numbers he produced this past year in Cleveland.
It’s hard to say whether Markkanen will be able to keep this up, but it’s been extremely entertaining to watch thus far.
Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers (+1100)
Indiana is handing the keys to the franchise to Tyrese Haliburton, which looks like a wise decision. The 22-year-old has more than a few All-Star selections in his future, and perhaps All-NBA honors as well. He’s already one of the league’s best playmakers, which bodes well for his ceiling.
After his mid-season trade to the Pacers in 2022, Haliburton averaged 17.5 points and 9.6 assists in 26 appearances. This year, he’s up to 21.7 points and 9.7 assists, and he’s shooting an absurd 46.3% from three-point range to boot.
Haliburton’s numbers could climb even higher if Indiana chooses to trade one or both of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner this year, so the (+1100) odds we’re getting now could be a great value.
NBA Most Improved Player Sleepers
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs (+3000)
I was all-in on Keldon Johnson as a potential Most Improved candidate before the season began, and it’s looking like his breakout year is finally here.
The 23-year-old San Antonio Spur is averaging career-high marks in points (23.8), assists, (3.8), and steals (1.1) while chipping in 5.3 rebounds per game. Johnson is also hitting 42.7% of his three-point attempts, and he’s taking an extremely high volume of shots from beyond the arc.
There isn’t nearly enough buzz surrounding Johnson right now. Get in at this price while you still can.
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (+3500)
Edwards is already a phenomenal scorer — he averaged 21.3 points per game in 2021-22 and went for 40+ three times — but he can also be a bit inconsistent. We’ve seen that on display this season, as the 21-year-old is connecting on just 34.9% of his attempts from deep.
He also hasn’t made a significant improvement over his numbers from last year just yet. Edwards is at 22.2 points per game through his first 11, which is less than a point better than his 2021-22 average.
Edwards should continue to improve as the season continues, but for now, bettors who backed him early have to be feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse.
NBA Most Improved Player Prediction
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs
At 30-1 odds, there isn’t a better bet you can make right now in this race. Johnson has everything going for him to become this year’s Most Improved Player, and as long as he stays healthy, it feels like it could genuinely be his to lose.