Is OG Anunoby Best Dark Horse Pick For NBA MIP Award?

  • OG Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors has +5000 longshot odds to win the 2021-2022 NBA Most Improved Player Award.
  • Anunoby improved in PPG, APG, SPG, and 3P% every year since he has been in the league.
  • The Raptors forward will see a bigger role with Kyle Lowry now on the Miami Heat.

TORONTO – Looking at the 2021-2022 NBA Most Improved Player Award (MIP) candidates on sportsbooks, long odds on Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby could be an interesting pick.

The 6’7 two-way wing has incrementally increased in all counting stats and three-point shooting percentage each season since he entered the league.

Additionally, with Raptors’ legend, Kyle Lowry, now on the Miami Heat, Anunoby’s role will be increased. If he continues his pattern of improving his number stats alongside taking a bigger role on the team, OG may be the best pick at NBA sportsbooks for the award.

Anunoby Constant Improvement

While online sportsbooks are not putting much stock into Anunoby as a legitimate candidate, giving him +5000 long odds, he has as good a chance as any of the favorites to win.

Anunoby averaged 15.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.5 STL, and shot 48.0% from the field and 39.8% from beyond the arc last season. This was a big jump for OG, as he put forth 10.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 1.4 STL in the season prior.

Since coming into the league, Anunoby has improved each season as his minutes increased. During the 2018-2019 season he averaged 20.2 minutes a game, the 2019-2020 season he saw 29.9 minutes, and the 2020-2021 season he jumped to 33.3 minutes.

Since his scoring output increases, while keeping a high shooting percentage as he plays more minutes, the coaching staff is likely to continue giving him a lot of playing time.

With Lowry now gone, the Raptors will be in desperate need of a new first option scorer. Toronto still has Pascal Siakam (who won MIP in 2019), but even if Anunoby becomes a second option he will still see more looks on offense.

The Raptors forward could easily become a 20 plus PPG scorer this NBA season with the larger role he is expected to be in.

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The Main Competition

The two favorites to win the NBA MIP award are Denver Nuggets wing Michael Porter Jr. and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson who both have +700 odds. Many NBA betting fans see potential superstars in both these players and rightfully so.

Michael Porter Jr. is coming off of one of the most efficient scoring seasons in NBA history, putting up 19.0 PPG off of 54.2% from the field and 44.5% from the three-point line. Porter Jr. also had an eFG of 64.6%. For comparison, Steph Curry’s Unanimous MVP season saw him with an eFG of 63.0%.

Zion Williamson is also coming off of a big season himself. The Pelicans All-Star averaged 27.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 3.7 APG. He shot 61.1% from the field and broke several records for scoring and efficiency on the way.

The case against these young favorites is simply, how much more can they improve to win this award. Both these players are either All-Star or fringe All-Star caliber already. While they do have room to improve next season, will it be enough to sway voters?

Another thing working against the favorites is that the award usually goes to a player who comes out of nowhere.

Julius Randle won MIP player during the 2020-2021 NBA season and he had +2000 long odds to win prior to the season’s start.

Anunoby’s improvements will be bigger than guys battling for All-Star spots as he has more room to grow and he has the luxury of not being on many betting fans or voters’ radar yet. This award is made for longshot betting and Anunoby at +5000 might be the best dark horse pick at online sportsbooks for the new year of NBA games.