The Most Improved Player award usually ends up being an award given to a player who unexpectedly put up big numbers. Therefore, it’s incredibly hard to bet on this honor before the season actually gets underway. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t break down some of the candidates who could build on their numbers significantly enough to be considered. Here’s a look at the odds for Most Improved Player in 2023-24, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Most Improved Player of the Year 2023-24 odds
The favorite: Mikal Bridges (+800)
Bridges got thrust into the spotlight with the Nets after the Kevin Durant trade, and he took full advantage. The question is whether he can do that for a full season while also playing lockdown defense. If he can, the Nets have found a star to build around. If he can’t, he’s still a high-level starter who needs more support. Either way, he steps in as the favorite for this honor mostly because the baseline for his production is solid.
Tyrese Maxey: +1000
Part of Maxey’s appeal here is the opportunity that awaits if and when James Harden does get traded. The 76ers have already given Maxey the keys to the offense once when Ben Simmons was holding out, and they’ll be ready to do so again. Maxey didn’t get his extension, so he’s motivated to play well. This could all lead to a big statistical spike which voters for this award love to see.
Cade Cunningham: +1300
Another player who is set to take a big leap is Cunningham, who comes back after missing most of last season with a shin issue. He’s going to be a high-usage player in a Detroit offense that could be better than people think. The question is whether this team can win enough games for Cunningham to merit consideration. Lauri Markkanen’s Jazz team didn’t make the playoffs but did exceed expectations. That’s likely what the Pistons have to do for Cunningham to be in the running.
Paolo Banchero: +1800
Banchero is in a great spot to win, largely because there’s a shot the Magic make the playoffs in 2023-24. The statistical improvement should be there, but that won’t be enough since Banchero had excellent numbers in his rookie season. There’s also the potential for more touches for Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., which could hurt Banchero a bit. If Orlando struggles out of the gate, Banchero will lose ground in this particular race.
Best bet: Cade Cunningham (+1300)
If you like betting longshots, this is the place to do it. There’s some really intriguing options (Deandre Ayton +3500, Devin Vassell +3500, Desmond Bane +3000), but I think Cunningham has more upside. He’s motivated to show out after missing most of last season, and the Pistons are good enough to put a scare in some East teams early in the season. Jaden Ivey is supposedly set to come off the bench, which means more touches for Cunningham with the starters. Take the third-year guard in this market.