The NBA’s Most Improved Player Award has been handed out every year since the end of the 1985-86 season. Alvin Robertson of the San Antonio Spurs was the first to win the award. Today, 36 players have taken home Most Improved Player honors. At the end of the 2021-22 season , Julius Randle of the New York Knicks took home the annual award.
Randle had career high numbers in points per game (24.1), minutes per game (37.6), three-point percentage (.411), free throw percentage (.811) rebounds per game (10.2), assists per game (6) and steals per game (.9) in 2021. The team rewarded Randle with a four-year, $117 million extension for his play during his Most Improved Player season.
This season’s race to win the award has largely been a three-player affair between Ja Morant, Miles Bridges and Darius Garland. Before we dig into the race for the 2022 Most Improved Player award, check out the best NBA betting sites and our NBA MVP betting odds guide.
NBA Most Improved Player Odds
|To Win NBA Most Improved Player 2022|
Ja Morant might have been on the early lists to win the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player award, but he was, at best, a longshot to win the 2022 NBA MVP. Morant now seems like a lock to win Most Improved Player, but he is in the discussion to win the 2022 NBA MVP. Morant was +6500 in the preseason MVP race. Today he is +1200 to win that award. That movement should give one a good idea as to just how much Morant has improved from last season.
Morant is in his third season in the NBA. The 22-year-old, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA entry draft, is having a career season in points (26.8), field goal percentage (49.5%) and three-point percentage (33%). Morant is also playing much better defensively. He has increased his numbers in rebounds per game (5.8), blocks (0.4), steals (1.2).
Morant leads the Memphis Grizzlies in points, minutes (33.2) and assists (6.9). He is 7th in the NBA in scoring, which is one spot ahead of last season’s NBA MVP, Nikola Jokic.
Miles Bridges is in his fourth season in the NBA, and he is tied for the top spot on the Charlotte Hornets in points with 20 per game, which is seven points higher than his previous career high of 13, which he put up during the 2019-20 season. The Hornets have rewarded Bridges improved output by increasing his playing time to an average of 36.3 minutes per game, which is again, a career high.
The 2018 first-round pick, Bridges is also having his best season in rebounds (7.2) and blocks (0.9). On January 17th, Bridges scored a career high 38 points in a 97-87 win over the New York Knicks. In the two games before the All-Star break, Bridges put up 28 and 29 points, his highest numbers since that 38 point game in January.
Darius Garland is, by far, the most productive player on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster during the 2022 season. Garland, who is in his third NBA season, is becoming a complete player for the Cavs.
The fifth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Entry Draft, Garland’s field goal percentage has improved from 40.1 percent in his rookie season to 47.7 percent today. His field goal attempts were 14.9 per game last season. This year he is at 16.3 per game, but his points per game have jumped from 17.4 to 20.3.
Garland leads Cleveland in points (20.3), assists (8.0), steals (1.2) and minutes (34.6).
With Damian Lillard out of the Portland Trail Blazers lineup, Anfernee Simons is climbing the list of players to consider for the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player. Simons started five games in his first three seasons in the NBA. With 26 starts this season, Simons is showing out on the stats sheet. Simons is having a career year in minutes (29.3), points (17.0), field goal percentage (44.7%), rebounds (2.7), assists (3.9) and steals (0.5).
Barring an injury or a complete fall off, Ja Morant should win the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player award.
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