The NBA’s Most Improved Player award is one of the toughest to predict or bet on. Hence, the early odds have a list of candidates led by 2020 first overall pick Anthony Edwards at 9-1. There are many criteria to consider when voters choose the most improved NBA player though recent winners suggest a trend; they are emerging NBA stars.
The Odds-on Favorites For the 2022-23 Most Improved Players
As mentioned, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards leads the field at 9-1. The Georgia Bulldog put up 21.3 points with a 441/357/786 shooting line plus a bit of board and assists. If he’s to be the most improved NBA player, he will need to “make the leap” like his predecessors have.
Ten of the last 12 winners feature players who have become All-Stars from Ja Morant last season to Kevin Love in 2010-11, the last Timberwolves player to win the award. These stars also increased their stats notably their scoring averages. Morant averaged 27.4 points last season compared to 19.1 the year before. Love put up 20.2 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds from averaging 14 and 11 prior.
Third Year Is the Charm
Among the players named above, many of them have one thing in common: it was their third year in the league. Since the 2010-11 season, half of the most improved NBA players were into their third season. Edwards is heading to his third year as is Haliburton. Both Barrett and Williamson will be fourth-year players though, in Williamson’s case, it may as well be his third season as he sat out the entirety of 2021-22.
Of the third-year players heading to the season, Edwards and Haliburton are two of the most likely to be stars. They were both finalists for the Rookie of the Year, which Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball won. He’s listed at 20-1 to win the award. As someone that’s already made the All-Star team, he’ll have to do more to impress the voters.
Other players in this class include the Pistons‘ Saddiq Bey. The 19th overall pick is at 50-1 to win, though he most notably put up 51 points in a game last year while setting the team’s franchise record for 3-pointers made in a season. At similar odds is also the Warriors’ James Wiseman. The second overall pick sat out the season so he’s harder to read than others.
Except for Wiseman, the players listed here will have to do more than just increase their stats. They would need to look like All-Stars. In Edwards’ case, he’ll need to play the NBA Player of the Year not unlike Morant.
New Team, New Me?
Third-year players only constituted half of the past decade’s winners. There were still a few players who won the award with over four seasons of NBA experience under their belt. Julius Randle was into his seventh season and third team. Victor Oladipo, likewise, was on his third team and in his fifth season. A change of scenery could benefit some players on the table.
The most notable or rather, notorious name here is Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons at 20-1. The much-maligned point forward already has three All-Star appearances and even made the All-NBA Third Team. And yet, many still consider him to be an underachiever as he’s been the same player since his rookie year.
Simmons has the tools to be a true superstar. Brooklyn is likely to move both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving thus paving the way for the team to build around Simmons. Fans may have left him for dead but you never know as he could just be much improved in 2022-23.
Another star that’s been a pariah lately is the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook. It’s funny to see him at the table at 33-1 to win “Most Improved Player”. But if “Russ” gets dealt to a team more conducive to his game, he could just have a career renaissance and even be a dark horse in the NBA MVP odds board. You never know.Follow us on Twitter