Jamal Murray Opens as Betting Favorite To Win 2021 Most Improved Player Award

Basketball Player Jamal Murray - NBA Awards Logo

  • Jamal Murray is the betting favorite to win the 2021 NBA Most Improved Player award.
  • Murray was the breakout star of the NBA bubble tournament in Florida.
  • DeAndre Ayton, Coby White, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Tyler Herro complete the Top 5 in the current MIP odds board.

Jamal Murray had one hell of a run in Florida and the sports books haven’t forgotten about it.

The 23-year old guard had a pair of 50-point games in a first round duel with Donovan Mitchell then eliminated the L.A. Clippers in the second round with a 40-point performance in the deciding Game 7. In both rounds, Murray helped the Nuggets erase a 3-1 deficit to win the series. Although Denver lost to the eventual champions Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, Murray averaged 25.0 points, 7.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game in the series.

When all was said and done though, it was Damian Lillard who went home with the MVP trophy and it was Devin Booker who was the talk of the town because of his team’s immaculate run. However, it was Murray who took his team farthest in the postseason. And his emergence as a star was all that mattered for Denver.

The Nuggets had been waiting for that to happen. And it did, not only suddenly but spectacularly as well. Now the betting gods are saying that Murray will continue his ascent during the 2020-21 season.

According to SportsBetting.ag, Murray is the +1000 odds on favorite to win the 2021 Most Improved Player award. Phoenix big man Deandre Ayton and Chicago point guard Coby White coming are next in the oddsboard at +1200 each. Meanwhile, Memphis big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miami sharpshooter Tyler Herro complete the Top 5 at +1400 and +1600, respectively.

Winning the Award Will Be A Challenge

Murray has increased his scoring average in each of his first four NBA seasons. Given how good he looked in the Bubble, there’s no doubt that he will top his 2019-20 scoring average of 18.5 points per game next season. If he can replicate his efforts at Disney World, Murray should be in the mix not just for Most Improved Player but also for MVP honors. To win either award though, will be a challenge for the University of Kentucky product.

The 7th pick of the 2016 NBA draft is likely to have a better regular season than last year. However, his Bubble performance is still fresh in the minds of the voters with the season starting in December. And because Murray was so good in Florida, a repeat performance might not be enough to win the award.

Other Favorites to Win The Award

Ayton had a shortened 2019-20 season due to a 25-game suspension. But when he was on the court, the no. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA draft was a force to reckon with. The 22-year old averaged 18.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season. With the Suns adding Chris Paul and Jae Crowder, the Suns should have a fantastic season that will highlight Ayton’s brilliance.

White will be given the keys to Chicago this season. With no competition for the starting point guard position, he is expected to have more playing time. With more exposure, White is expected to improved his 13.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game average during the 2019-20 season.

The 4th pick of the 2018 Draft, Jackson enjoyed his best season in 2019-20. The 21-year old averaged 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game for Memphis. Meanwhile, Miami’s “baby GOAT” Herro had a terrific playoff run and 16.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game during the postseason.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.