- Celtics Forward Jayson Tatum leads Most Improved Player Odds
- Budding Raptors star Pascal Siakam won the award last season
- Plenty of value to be found in the market
The NBA’s Most Improved Player odds are led by third-year Celtics forward Jayson Tatum ahead of the Charlotte Hornets big off-season acquisition, Terry Rozier. Another player involved in a headline-grabbing move this summer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, rounds out the top three with +1400 odds.
Since its arrival in 1985-86, Most Improved Player award has been given to 31 different players with 10, including reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, also named to the All-Star team in the same season.
Several players in the top twenty of this season’s odds will be eyeing up an All-Star berth as well.
Odds to Win 2019-20 Most Improved Player
|Jayson Tatum (BOS)||+1000|
|Terry Rozier (CHA)||+1100|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||+1400|
|John Collins (ATL)||+1800|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||+2000|
|Jonathan Isaac (ORL)||+2000|
|Dejounte Murray (SAS)||+2000|
|De’Aaron Fox (SAC)||+2000|
|Jaylen Brown (BOS)||+2200|
|Miles Bridges (CHA)||+2500|
|Trae Young (ATL)||+2500|
|Lonzo Ball (NOP)||+2500|
|Luka Doncic (DAL)||+2500|
|Marvin Bagley (SAC)||+2500|
|Caris LeVert (BKN)||+3000|
|Brandon Ingram (NOP)||+3000|
|Malcolm Brogdon (IND)||+3000|
|Thomas Bryant (WAS)||+3000|
|Markelle Fultz (ORL)||+4000|
|Domantas Sabonis (IND)||+4000|
Odds taken on 10/15/19.
Should Jayson Tatum Be the Favorite?
The narrative surrounding Tatum was largely negative last season despite an increase in points, rebounds and assists.
Tatum finished third in ROY voting in 2017-18, leading the Celtics to a Game Seven against LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. Although the counting stats were strong, Tatum was much less efficient in 2018-19, settling for too many mid-range shots. Playing on a dysfunctional team didn’t help either.
The departure of the divisive Kyrie Irving should give Tatum a chance to step forward and rediscover the form in which he starred in the 2018 playoffs.
While there’s no Al Horford or Irving, Tatum still faces competition to become the premier player on the team. Gordon Hayward is looking to return to his Jazz form, Kemba Walker will have the ball in his hands a lot and fellow youngster Jaylen Brown has plenty to prove in a contract year.
Predicting Tatum isn’t easy this year. It feels like this season, perhaps even more than last, is a crossroads in his NBA career. Scoring 20 points per game is well within reach, but is that enough to make +1000 a good price?
Can Rozier, Gilgeous-Alexander Excel on New Teams?
Rozier’s odds are reliant, like Tatum’s, on that 2018 run. Rozier played point guard for the Celtics in Irving’s absence and starred throughout. Playing in a backup role last season, the former 16th overall pick wasn’t happy.
As the starting point guard for the Hornets this season, Rozier has his own team and a hefty contract to go with it. Replacing Walker isn’t an easy job, and Charlotte is going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA.
It’s a surprise to see him at +1100. There’s upside there, for sure, but his career to date suggests the 2018 playoffs were the exception rather than the rule.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of just seven players in the NBA scoring over 20 points per game.
SGA is averaging:
21.0 points while shooting 52% from the floor and 92% from the FT stripe
The only player avg 20+ ppg and shooting > 50% from the field and 90% FT's is Steph Curry
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) October 12, 2019
At +1400, Gilgeous-Alexander is in an interesting situation alongside Chris Paul. Depending on how the Thunder stagger their minutes, there’s a risk that the former Clipper will spend a lot of time off the ball. A well-rounded player and great defender, Gilgeous-Alexander can be effective in that role, but it doesn’t put him in a good position to win Most Improved Player.
Sam Presti finding a trade for Paul would make Gilgeous-Alexander a very good bet at +1400. Unless that happens soon, though, that price is too short. Tatum certainly isn’t the best value in the market, but he’s the one to pick of the top three.
Pick: Jayson Tatum (+1000)
Best Of The Rest
Three names stand out at longer odds; Lonzo Ball, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert.
Ball has shown flashes of an exhilarating partnership with Zion Williamson in pre-season. Fitness is a concern for the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, but if he can stay on the floor, he will be a key component for a Pelicans team that could shock a few in the Western Conference.
Having unveiled a new shot, New Orleans will be hoping he can improve on his 32.9% from three last season and become respected shooter.
His difficulties at the free throw line have made drives to the rim a rare sight. That needs to change if he’s to take a step forward. If it does, and with obvious on-court chemistry with Williamson, Ball could be a good bet at +2500.
Brogdon was the underrated cog in the Bucks’ winning machine last season. He’ll lead the Pacers until Victor Oladipo returns and should see his numbers increase significantly. Off the back of a 50/43/93 shooting slash season, Brogdon should play himself into All-Star contention this season. Health is a worry, however.
Before a gruesome injury, LeVert was the Nets’ star performer last season. A full healthy season, if Brooklyn can build on an impressive 2018-19 with Irving on board, gives LeVert a very solid platform to build a Most Improved Player argument.
The Nets are one of a group of teams – along with Brogdon’s Pacers, Tatum’s Celtics – eyeing up a top three seed in the Eastern Conference. LeVert has the potential to be a real difference maker for Kenny Atkinson’s team.
Of the three, Brogdon is likely the best bet, such is his importance to Indiana. All three represent better value than the top three, however.