rj barrett
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The race for NBA’s Most Improved Player is wide open in 2021-22. Let’s take a look at RJ Barrett’s odds to win the award.

Danny Small

RJ Barrett improved by leaps and bounds in year two of his NBA career. His three-point shooting and overall improved play helped lead the New York Knicks to the playoffs for the first time since 3013.

Despite his major improvements, it was his teammate Julius Randle who ran away with the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Can it be two years in a row for the orange and blue? Possibly, but there are a ton of different players who could win MIP.

Most of the time, someone comes out of left field to shock the world and win the award. That’s exactly what Randle did last year and Barrett is poised to do the same.

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NBA Most Improved Player Odds on FanDuel Sportsbook

Michael Porter Jr. +950
Kevin Porter Jr. +1300
Collin Sexton +1600
Jaren Jackson Jr. +1800
Dejounte Murray +2000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander +2100
De’Aaron Fox +2400
Zion Williamson +2700
Chris Boucher +2700
OG Anunoby +3000
Derrick White +3000
John Collins +3000
Christian Wood +3000
Nickeil Alexander-Walker +3200
Darius Garland +3400
Ja Morant +3500
Jaylen Brown +3500
Ben Simmons +3500
Kyle Kuzma +3500
Lonzo Ball +3600
Fred VanVleet +3600
RJ Barrett +3800
Keldon Johnson +4100

All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

RJ Barrett Has Something to Prove

Although these lists are meaningless, RJ Barrett was left off of every major publications list of top 100 players in the NBA. Barrett is often criticized for being an inefficient player despite the fact that he shot over 40% from three-point land last season. He is coming into this season severely underrated by the national media.

Given that fact and his favorable odds at +3800, this makes Barrett an intriguing option to win Most Improved Player. Add in New York’s embarrassing playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks and it’s clear that Barrett will be coming into the 2021-22 season with a giant chip on his shoulder.

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Zion Williamson has the Juice

Zion Williamson is already one of the best players in the NBA. He was named an All-Star in the crowded Western Conference last year and there is no ceiling for this young talent. If Williamson can make another leap in year three, perhaps by leading his team to the playoffs or making an All-NBA team, he’ll have a strong case to win MIP.

All NBA awards are narrative-driven. For bettors to ignore that would be a mistake. Even if there is another deserving candidate, the fact that Zion Williamson is Zion Williamson will help his case. At +2700 odds, Williamson is a solid option on the board.

Wide Open Field

Barrett and Williamson are value plays to win Most Improved Player this season, but let’s be honest, this is a total crapshoot. This is always one of the toughest NBA futures to handicap because the field is always wide open. After all, Michael Porter Jr is the favorite at +950.

On the flip side, the wide-open nature of the MIP field means that bettors can win big if they choose right. There are plenty of options on the board. Do your research, find a guy that makes sense (like Barrett or Williamson) and lay some action on it.

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