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NBA Most Improved Player Award Odds Update: Is Tyler Herro Poised to Make a Run?

After the first month and a half of the 2021 NBA season, NBA expert Ryan Kirksey breaks down the latest NBA Most Improved Player odds and rankings. He updates us on the latest here.
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NBA Most Improved Player Award Odds Update: Is Tyler Herro Poised to Make a Run?

The NBA’s Most Improved Player award is one of the most interesting to track throughout the season. The award can reasonably fit players from a number of different categories.

First, you have players who take massive steps forward in production. Perhaps they were just a rotational piece but moved into a starting gig with massive minutes. Second, you have stars who are on the verge of becoming mega-stars so they stand out in our brains more. Think someone like Ja Morant this year. Lastly, you have players who took a dip for whatever reason the season before but are now playing at or above previous levels.

This season, we have players from each of these categories that should make for an entertaining race for the next five months. Let’s handicap the players with the best odds to win the award and also look at a long shot who could make a run.

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NBA Most Improved Player Award Rankings

5. Jordan Poole (+2500, Previous: +2500)

Jordan Poole has been an absolute revelation for the Golden State Warriors this season and is exactly what Steph Curry and Co. needed to help get them to a commanding 18-2 record out of the gate.

Poole continues to put up incredible numbers for this Warriors squad, including 18.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.1 steals, all magnitudes better than his numbers from last year. He is also doing it at 30 minutes per night with improved shooting percentages (44.9% from the floor and 33.5% from three).

The problem for Poole is the pending return of Klay Thompson. Thompson was assigned to the G-League on Tuesday and his projected return for the Christmas Day game looks likely. His presence complicates things to Poole as it likely moves him to a sixth-man role and also bumps his usage, minutes, and opportunity way down.

Right behind him, Anthony Edwards has some serious juice (+5000 two weeks ago, +2700 this week) and will likely overtake him once Thompson returns. No value to be found here unless Thompson has a setback.

4. Tyler Herro (+1800, Previous: +1600)

If you’re looking for longshot value, Herro may be your man. Herro’s numbers have significantly increased since our last check-in a couple of weeks ago yet his odds dropped to +1800.

Despite coming off the bench, Herro is up to 33 minutes per game, 45.4% from the floor, 40% from three, and is at 21.8 points per game this season. In addition, his rebounds, assists, steals, and free throw percentage are all up from last year.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both missing multiple games this year with various ailments, Herro has been the Heat’s constant so far and is a major factor in their 13-8 record, just 1.5 games out of first in the East.

With an injury to Ja Morant and Miles Bridges’ pace slowing, Herro could be poised to make a run at this award.

3. Dejounte Murray (+1200, Previous: +2000)

In terms of just raw odds movement, Murray saw the biggest jump over the last two weeks as he continues to marvel statistically and is doing things almost no one else in the league can match.

The list of players averaging at least eight assists per game is six players long. Murray is on it. The list of players averaging eight assists and eight rebounds per game is four players long. Murray is on it. The list of players averaging eight assists, eight rebounds and two steals per game is one player: Murray.

Throw in 19 points per game plus the fourth-best assist/turnover ratio among players with at least 30 minutes per game and you have an obvious All-Star with room for more. Besides Herro, there is no players I like more for their value than Murray.

2. Ja Morant (+390, Previous: +350)

Ja Morant tumbles slightly in the odds, but the fall might be steeper depending on how much time he will miss after suffering a knee sprain four days ago. Fortunately, he avoided a major knee injury and will be back at some points in a few weeks, and hopefully, it doesn’t derail his magical season.

Morant’s minutes didn’t tick up one bit since last season, but his efficiency has gone through the roof. In 32.6 minutes per night, he averages 24.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, plus an effective field goal percentage of 52%, way up from his 48.7% last season.

Among players with at least 30 minutes per game this season, Morant is currently top ten in usage rate, scoring, and assist rate. But he makes for a tricky bet now as we don’t know how long he will sit out. More than 2-3 weeks and voters may start to discount his absence. If he makes it back earlier and can still play in 65 games, he should have no problem charging right back to the front of the line.

Read the tea leaves here in regards to injury news and if it starts to look like he is ahead of schedule, Morant represents good value this far behind Bridges.

1. Miles Bridges (+260, Previous: +500)

Bridges is another player whose raw statistical output has taken a huge leap forward this season, but it may be more due to minutes than any other player on this list. Bridges jumped from 29 minutes per game last season to over 36 per game this year. We are just starting to see signs that the extra court time may be catching up with him.

The first signs are obvious. His shooting percentages (45.4% from the floor, 32.7% from three, 76% at the line) are all dropping fast from his numbers last year (50.3%, 40%, 86.7%). And his last five games tell a story that he is in the midst of a pretty bad slump.

In that span, Bridges is still playing 35 minutes per game but averages only 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting only 43% from the floor and 30% from three.

Count me in the camp that believes Bridges may be better suited to around 30 minutes per night, and that there are much better odds in the players found behind him on this list. He takes the top spot by default for now with Morant’s injury, but if the slump continues or the minutes decrease, look for a player to Murray or Herro to move in on him.


Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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