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LaMelo Ball's Biggest MIP Competitor Might Be His Own Teammate

The Hornets currently have two legit MIP candidates, but both are trailing the electric Ja Morant (+250) early in the season 🏀 (5 minute read)

Morning - No. 3 Kansas covered the spread (-4.5) vs. MSU without their best player 👀. As always, if the parlay below hits, the first person to email [email protected] gets $100 🤑*

Junior Jumpmen for MIP

Coming off of a transcendent rookie season, LaMelo Ball was one of the most exciting long-shots to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award at +4000. Through a dozen games, he’s made good on his potential, improving his production in terms of both volume and efficiency

However, despite starting the season with unlisted MIP odds lists, another high-flying Hornet has significantly elevated his game

  • Miles Bridges won the NBA’s first Eastern Conference Player of the Week award this season

  • He’s gone from averaging 13 PPG last season to 22 PPG this year

  • His playing time has increased by 7 MPG this season

Trivia question: Can you name the last three Charlotte players (hint: two Hornets, one Bobcat) to make an All-Star Game? (answer below)

LaMelo’s Leap

Before diving into his teammates’ recent tear, let’s dig into how LaMelo’s improved since his rookie campaign

  • 2020-21: 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game on 53.9% true shooting

  • 2021-22: 20.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game on 55.5% true shooting

A playmaking blur on both ends, LaMelo is delivering on LaVar’s promises of superstardom. Despite the Hornets’ five-game skid, LaMelo’s been the engine of the NBA’s seventh-best offense

LaMelo’s MIP odds have held steady at +4000, perhaps due to the even stronger candidate for the award playing on his own team 🐝

The Miles B-Hive

Hornets fans may have expected improvement from the Flint, Michigan native in his fourth season, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming 👇

  • 2018-19: 7.5 points per game

  • 2019-20: 13.0 points per game

  • 2020-21: 12.7 points per game

  • 2021-22: 22.3 points per game

From off the MIP board before the season, Miles Bridges has suddenly become the second favorite to win the MIP at +350, trailing only Ja Morant (+250). No other player has odds under +1200

  • If these two high-fliers can stay healthy all season, the chase for this award may have already whittled down to a two-man race

The Dark Horse

If anyone besides Ja, Bridges, or LaMelo is going to make a push for NBA’s MIP, don’t overlook the Oklahoma City Thunder’s own 23-year-old wunderkind, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

  • Though he opened as the second favorite to win the award at +700 (behind Michael Porter Jr. at +650), Shai’s odds have plummeted all the way to +5000

Perhaps the hype has died down due to his competition in Charlotte and the Thunder’s lack of team success, but Shai’s shown flashes of being one of the best players in the NBA, despite relatively unchanged averages

  • 2020-21: 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game on 62.3% true shooting

  • 2021-22: 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game on 56.0% true shooting

However, Shai’s doing a ton all on his own, which might help him win the award if he can continue his impressive play

  • In nine games, he’s scored more total points in isolation than any other player in the NBA, including the likes of James Harden and Kevin Durant

  • He’s also doing it with the 18th-best efficiency in the league. That’s better than Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler

At +5000, he’s a talent worth banking on in the long run

For My Parlay Gurus

In a timely matchup of the two frontrunners, Miles and LaMelo’s squad will travel to Memphis tonight to take on the Grizzlies. Since the Hornets are on a five-game losing streak, I like the Grizzlies to handle Charlotte in a high-scoring game

In addition, Shai’s Thunder will take on Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans. Both teams are undermanned, especially in New Orleans’ case without Zion, but I have the veteran-laden Pels taking care of business at home

  • Grizzlies -4.5 vs. the Hornets: -110

  • Over 227.5 total points: -110

  • Pelicans -4 vs. Thunder: -110

$100 on this parlay would net $596. If it hits, first to hit up [email protected] gets $100 🤑

Previous Parlay:

  • Steelers moneyline: HIT

  • Bears vs Steelers under 39 pts: MISS

  • Najee Harris over 79.5 rushing yards: MISS

Trivia answer: Kemba Walker made three straight All-Star Games from 2016-17 through 2018-19, Gerald Wallace made one as a Bobcat in 2009-10, and Baron Davis made one in 2001-02