By Mark Strotman | | 3 mins
Why You Should Bet Zach LaVine NBA Most Improved Player Odds Now
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There has been a shift in recent years in the NBA’s Most Improved Player voting. Where the award was once handed out to role players who flourished later in their careers – Darrell Armstrong won it at 30 years old in 1999 after averaging a modest 13.8 points and 6.7 assists for the Magic – it has now become a recognition of a player who made a leap to All-Star status.
Consider that in the first 25 years, players who won the award were also All-Stars just five times. In the last 10 years, beginning with Kevin Love in 2011, six have been named All-Stars.
That’s where Zach LaVine comes in. The Bulls shooting guard found his name on the list of Most Improved Player odds for the first time this season, checking in with +2500 odds on PointsBet (with value as high as +3600 recently on FanDuel) thanks to a recent hot stretch.
Here’s why it’s time to jump on those NBA futures odds now:
LaVine’s an All-Star Lock
LaVine posted All-Star numbers in 2020 but simply got left out because of the depth in the East. But there won’t be a debate this time around. The seventh-year pro is averaging 28.6 points with an effective field-goal percentage of nearly 61%, tied for 15th best in the league with two players you may have heard of: Steph Curry and Nikola Jokic. He’s averaging career bests in points, rebounds, assists, FG%, 3FG%, and FT%. His game is at a whole new level.
He’s a lock to make his first All-Star appearance next month in Atlanta, and that decision will be confirmed Tuesday night when All-Star reserves are announced. Of the five players LaVine trails in MIP odds, only Jaylen Brown (+650) and Julius Randle (+2000) are realistic All-Star candidates, and neither are locks. Six of the last 10 Most Improved Players were named first time All-Stars in the seasons they won:
LaVine Has Bulls Winning Again
Another good indicator of an improved player? Improved team success. The Bulls, who had a combined win percentage of .310 in LaVine’s first three seasons in Chicago, are a respectable 14-16 and sit eighth in a weak Eastern Conference. But they’re also trending up, having won six of their last nine games. LaVine’s numbers in those games: 33.6 points on 54.4% shooting, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in nearly 36 minutes.
Winning has become a more important indicator of Most Improved Player candidacy, and LaVine leading the way for a potentially playoff-bound team will keep the pressure on oddsmakers.
No One Has Run Away With Award
Houston's Christian Wood (+275) was the runaway favorite until an ankle injury sidelined him on Feb. 4. He still hasn’t returned and, in the process, has fallen behind Detroit’s Jerami Grant (-200). Grant has cooled off a bit in mid-February, averaging just 20.4 points on 37% shooting over his last six games.
Brown, Randle, and Toronto's Chris Boucher (+2500) are having terrific seasons, but there’s a strong argument for LaVine over any of those mentioned players. If he continues his historic shooting campaign, he’ll have to be considered.
At the very least, his odds will begin to shorten as early as tonight when he’s named an All-Star and become a national topic of conversation. LaVine has arrived, and it’s time to jump on his odds for Most Improved Player at FanDuel.
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