The 2021-22 NBA season is less than two months away, which means now is the perfect time to lock in some smart NBA futures bets.
A bettors’ best friend is variety, and the NBA futures market has that in spades, especially when it comes to the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player Award (MIP).
When you further investigate the Most Improved odds, it is clear that the award is one of the more difficult awards to predict this far out.
Here are the favorites at four different sportsbooks with each player’s odds as of Aug. 23:
|BetMGM||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700)|
|DraftKings||Michael Porter Jr. (+600)|
|FanDuel||Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+800)|
|PointsBet||Kevin Porter Jr./Michael Porter Jr. (+1400)|
The difference is vast. Michael Porter Jr. and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are the two names you see mentioned most as favorites and with good reason.
Porter is coming off of a season in which he just put up just under 20 points per game on a 66% true shooting percentage, which factors in 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws.
With Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray still facing a long recovery from a torn ACL, Denver won’t have to look far for who will step up to replace Murray’s 21-plus points per game, though. Porter averaged just under 24 points per game in the month of April while shooting a scorching-hot 42% from 3-point range.
Porter has definitely shown that he can be a big-time scorer for this Denver squad, and he would likely be a No. 1 scoring option on a lesser team. His MIP hype is obvious and deserved.
Porter will be playing an important role for a team with big-time aspirations, while Gilgeous-Alexander would likely be taking the opposite path to the award. The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a very obvious rebuild.
The Thunder don’t have much in the way of veteran talent, but their young group formed around SGA and Luguentz Dort will be fun to watch. Gilgeous-Alexander averaged just under 24 points per game last season for an only slightly Thunder team that doesn’t appear to be much better entering the 2021-22 campaign on paper.
With such a lack of NBA-ready talent, there is obvious potential for Gilgeous-Alexander to put up an even gaudier point per game average, albeit likely with worse efficiency due to the supporting cast.
His case is as solid as Porter’s, and if you like Gilgeous-Alexander for MIP, FanDuel is offering him as the favorite at +800.
Where things get very, very interesting is over at PointsBet, which has Gilgeous-Alexander tied for third in MIP odds and Kevin Porter Jr. joining Denver’s Porter as a favorite for the award.
Jackson and Sexton having a strong position in the MIP odds make sense, as Sexton — for all of his flaws — is coming off of a 24 points per game season. And Jackson is hoping to be back at full strength as a two-way force for the Ja Morant-led Grizzlies.
Kevin Porter Jr. stands out the most as a +1400 favorite for the MIP award at PointsBet. KPJ is entering his third season in the NBA and his second with Houston (but his first full season with Houston).
The Rockets went into full rebuild mode as soon as they traded James Harden. Their rebuild is looking quite promising with the athletic duo of 2021 No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green flanking Kevin Porter Jr., John Wall and more.
Houston could still have more moves to make if it wants to truly bottom out, which would help Kevin Porter Jr. and Green get even more usage/playing time.
In his 26 games with the Rockets last season, Kevin Porter Jr. averaged 16 points, three rebounds and six assists per game. With an increased role, there is a possibility he becomes a big-time three-stat contributor regardless of who is on the roster.