Maxey

Tyrese Maxey vs Coby White: Who Will Win the MIP Award?

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With the 2023-24 season in its final month, players are working their way into becoming finalists for awards. While the 65 games played minimum rule deciding who will be eligible for awards, one of the most overlooked and confusing awards over the last few years is the Most Improved Player award. Over the last handful of years, the type of player winning the award has changed drastically. Previously. it was awarded to the player who has seen the most improvement, the award has more recently been given to players who have taken the leap to All-Star or superstar. Last season saw Lauri Markkanen of the Utah Jazz win the award, jumping from 14.8 PPG the previous year to 25.6 PPG, landing his first All-Star nod. The 2021-22 season saw Ja Morant win the award, jumping from 19.1 PPG to 27.4 PPG, also landing his first All-Star nod. Because of the recent history of the award, sports betting outlets see Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey as the player most likely to win the award, but there’s one more player who stands out in the award race: Chicago Bulls guard Coby White. 

 

Tyrese Maxey has followed the route of many of the recent MIP award winners. Last season, Maxey was seen as a third option most nights between Joel Embiid and James Harden, averaging 20.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Following the James Harden trade earlier this season, Maxey has become the clear number two option and the perfect complement to Joel Embiid. This season, Maxey has seen a slight boost in his stats, jumping to 25.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game. Being such a significant part of the Sixers’ success this season, Maxey landed himself his first All-Star appearance. With Joel Embiid out due to injury, Maxey has been the number one option, having some up-and-down games. After suffering a concussion earlier this month, Maxey missed four of Philly’s last six games. Even though he’s taken a small step in terms of stats, he’s played a pivotal role in Philly’s success this season and has followed the path of recent MIP award winners. 

 

On the other side of the award race is Chicago Bulls guard Coby White, who has seen improvement like many of the award winners outside of the last five-plus seasons. Last season, White spent most of his games played coming off the bench, only starting twice in 74 games. Most of White’s stats had dropped from the 2021-22 season, going from 12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game to 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. With the Bulls lacking a starting point guard without Lonzo Ball and Patrick Beverly leaving in the offseason, White would land the starting point role. This season, White has seen a significant jump across the board with his stats. He is currently averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game while shooting a career-high from three. Coby’s breakout would be seen the most when Zach Lavine went out with an injury. In the 41 games he has played without Lavine, Coby White has averaged 21.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. He has not reached an All-Star level yet, but White has the potential to be one in the future. 

 

White has seen a similar jump to previous award winners such as Giannis Antetokounmpo (2017), CJ McCollum (2016), and Jimmy Butler (2015). In 2017, Giannis would jump from 16.9 points to 22.9 points per game while also seeing a jump in both assists and rebounds. In 2016, CJ McCollum would see a huge jump solidifying himself as the number two option behind former teammate Damian Lillard, jumping from 6.8 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists to 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. In 2015, Jimmy Butler would jump from 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists to 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game to solidify himself as a young star on a Bulls team still suffering from Derrick Rose injuries at the time. Unfortunately for White, he suffered a hip strain in a game against the Pacers and will be out for the next few games at a minimum.

 

With the betting odds between the two being the closet they have been all season (Maxey -135 and White -105 via FanDuel and Maxey -129 and White -110 via PointsBet), the last four weeks of the season may very well decide who wins the award. With Embiid having not returned to the Sixers yet, Maxey will be the key to Philly not falling into Play-In Tournament positioning. Even though the Bulls went through a horrendous 5-14 start and are currently ninth in the East, White has been one of only a couple of players keeping the Bulls relevant this deep into the season. If the announcement of MIP follows a similar timeframe to last season, the winner will likely be announced in late April.

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