2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player Award Odds: Michael Porter Jr. is Ready to Breakout
The Most Improved Player award can be a predictor of future stardom. It’s been won by plenty of players who would go on to make All-Star Teams, including Kevin Love, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler. It was also won by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who followed that up with two MVPs and an NBA championship.
Let’s dive into some of the top contenders to take home the hardware this season on FanDuel Sportsbook.
FanDuel Sportsbook Top 10 Odds
- Michael Porter Jr. (+1000)
- Kevin Porter Jr. (+1200)
- Jordan Poole (+1200)
- Ja Morant (+1400)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+1600)
- OG Anunoby (+2000)
- Collin Sexton (+2000)
- Dejounte Murray (+2000)
- Jaren Jackson Jr. (+2400)
- De’Aaron Fox (+2600)
- Zion Williamson (+2600)
There are a few different ways to win this award, but the easiest way is to simply do more on the basketball court. Did Julius Randle really get better last season, or did he have more opportunities to showcase his talent? The answer is probably a bit of both, but you want to target players who will have a more prominent role this season.
Michael Porter Jr. fits that description perfectly. He’s already coming off an excellent season, averaging 19.0 points per game while shooting 54.2% from the field and 44.5% from 3-point range, but he’s going to have to carry a more significant role given the injury Jamal Murray. Porter increased his scoring to 24.6 points per game after Murray got injured last season, so he’s already proven he can do just that. He could easily find himself in the All-Star conversation this season, making him an excellent candidate for Most Improved Player.
Kevin Porter Jr. – no relation – is also going to have to do some heavy lifting this season. The big difference is that he plays for the Rockets, who are expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. Eight of the past nine winners of this award have played for a team that went to the playoffs, so he might be a fade at his current odds. Still, there’s no denying that he has plenty of talent, and he should be able to put that on display often for the Rockets.
Ja Morant won’t see a massive bump in opportunities this season, but he’s still hard to ignore. He has the pedigree of a future star in this league, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he takes a step forward in 2021-22. The big question with Morant is if he can be a bit more efficient with his jump shot. He shot just 30.3% from 3-point range last season, which is well-below average for the modern NBA. Morant hasn’t shown much improvement in that department during the preseason, but he still averaged 21.0 points in just 25.4 minutes per game.
OG Anunoby is another player who fits the criteria of a Most Improved Player. He’s a young player who has excelled in limited opportunities, averaging a career-best 15.9 points per game last year. With Kyle Lowry now in Miami, Anunoby should have more opportunities to score this season. Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher are also currently dealing with injuries, so Anunoby will have to do even more at the start of the season. If the preseason is any indication, he’s more than capable: He’s averaged 19.2 points while shooting 54.0% from 3-point range.
Finally, Dejounte Murray has some appeal for the Spurs. They are in full-on rebuilding mode after losing LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, which means the spotlight will be on the younger players. Murray is my favorite of the bunch. He’s already one of the best defensive point guards in the league, and he averaged a career-high 15.7 points per game last season. There’s a chance he could take another step forward in that department this year, which would put him squarely on the Most Improved Player radar. The only real question is if the Spurs will be good enough for that to matter. They’re not expected to contend for the postseason, but I’m not willing to bet against Gregg Popovich getting them to the play-in tournament.