Spurs: Bet odds show Murray's 'Most Improved' stock rising
By Josh Paredes
The San Antonio Spurs have only ever boasted one NBA Most Improved Player, but betting odds show Dejounte Murray has an outside shot at giving them another.
Now the undisputed leader of the team in his fifth season, Murray's all-around game is earning him long-deserved attention that could lead to some official recognition. Dejounte's nightly stat-line already should have him in the NBA All-Star conversation, and we could argue some of the national media is already suggesting that.
Beyond his All-Star chances, Murray is already causing betting odds at Wynn to shift in his favor regarding chances for the NBA Most Improved Player Award. As of Sunday, Murray had the fourth-best odds among all players to earn the title. The list breaks down with the following odds:
Miles Bridges (CHA): +250
Ja Morant (MEM): +350
LaMelo Ball (CHA): +1000
Dejounte Murray (SAS): +1200
How can Dejounte Murray propel himself toward the NBA Most Improved Player Award?
Looking at Murray's numbers, there isn't much he's doing wrong out on the court. He's averaging 19.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while limiting his turnovers to just 2.4. His overall impact is undeniable.
A few things would have to happen for Murray to receive serious consideration from the panel of sportswriters that chooses the winner. First, the Spurs need to finish with a somewhat respectable record. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to be above .500, but they can't be a 20-win team and expect consideration.
Here are the records for the teams that had the last five winners of the award:
Julius Randle, 2021: 41-31
Brandon Ingram, 2020: 30-42
Pascal Siakam, 2019: 58-24
Victor Oladipo, 2018: 48-34
Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2017: 42-40
The lowest winning percentage here is 41.6%. If going by that rule, the Spurs would need to finish with a record of 34-48 to be on the same plane as the New Orleans Pelicans when Ingram won the award.
Where Murray could stand to improve individually is with his 3-point shooting and shooting from the free throw line. Percentages of 32.6 and 70 don't cut it for an All-Star guard in today's league, especially with the outside shot being more important than ever.
Miles Bridges and Ja Morant will probably be Dejounte's biggest competition when it comes to this award, so they'll be the guys to monitor with both team and individual success this season. Morant's recent knee injury will keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks while the Hornets are still above .500 after winning just 33 games last season.