- Jordan Poole and Mikal Bridges are +900 co-favorites to be named the 2023-24 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year
- Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards (+3300) might already be too good to win the award
- The 2023-24 NBA Regular Season begins on Tuesday, Oct. 24th
Most Improved Player is one of the most difficult award races to forecast in all of sports. Often, the honor goes to NBAers who exceed expectations while other times it’s handed to players who make the leap to super stardom.
Most Improved Player of the Year
|Jabari Smith Jr.||+2200||+2200||+2200|
Poole and Bridges open as favorites
While Jordan Poole (+900) and Mikal Bridges (+900) are co-favorites for Most Improved Player of the Year, Poole seems like an especially bad bet as an average talent playing for a mediocre Wizards squad.
Bridges averaged 26.1 points per game for the Nets last season after being acquired in the Kevin Durant trade. While he was a steal for New Jersey, his numbers will be difficult to improve on.
Mikal Bridges entering media day out of turn. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/X8xtWoYIk3
— theScore (@theScore) October 2, 2023
Next tier of contenders
Austin Reaves, Scottie Barnes and Tyrese Maxey are all quality players, but at +1000, it’s fair to wonder if either has the top gear required to wow voters. In a poll of ESPN experts, Cade Cunningham received over half the first-place votes. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft played in only 12 games last season, but averaged 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6 assists per contest.
Shaedon Sharpe (+1400) is next on the list. But while he will get a lot of playing time in Portland this season, keep in mind that a second-year player hasn’t claimed the MIP award since 2007 (Monta Ellis).
Last year, Josh Giddey (+2200) was one of five players to average at least 16 points with seven rebounds and six assists per game. The multi-positional Australian is on an exciting young Thunder squad with Shai Gilegous-Alexander. With improved free-throw shooting and more three-pointers, Giddey could make the leap.
One of the most exciting passers in the NBA!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 10, 2023
Is Ant-Man too good already?
Anthony Edwards (+3300) averaged 24.6 points per game in 2022-23. That doesn’t bode well for his candidacy as five of the past six winners (Lauri Markkanen, Ja Morant, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Pascal Siakam, Victor Oladipo) took their scoring averages from the teens to the low-to-mid 20s.
Bad team alert
Tyrese Haliburton (+4000) set career-highs in points (20.7) and assists (10.4 ) in his first full year in Indiana. Already known as one of the best passers in the NBA, the 23-year-old is coming off his first All-Star season. However, the last six winners’ teams averaged 45 wins and the Pacers win total sits at 38.5 heading into the season.
“I mean, Franz, he was a star. He took that joint over.”
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 7, 2023
Similarly, Orlando’s over/under is 36.5 wins. But, it’s still hard to overlook Franz Wagner (+3300). After averaging 18.6 points in his sophomore year, the German helped his homeland claim its first FIBA World Cup gold medal this summer.
The 22-year-old was also the top choice of anonymous NBA executives polled by HoopsHype as the top breakout candidate for the 2023-24 season. That’s more than enough reason to place a longshot bet on Wagner.
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