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Midseason NBA Awards Odds and Picks

Basketball Insiders takes a look at the seven major regular-season awards as the 2021-22 season has now reached the halfway point.

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We have reached the midpoint of the 2021-22 season, and it has been a wild one. Just as everyone had predicted, the Bulls and Warriors sit at the top of each conference while the Knicks and Hawks are in the bottom-five of the East. The Lakers are still a mess, the Kyrie Irving situation is strange, and the list of players in the league has grown to more than 550. Still, the balls keep bouncing and the games still count. Needless to say, the midseason NBA awards odds also reflect this craziness.

In the coming weeks, all of the attention will be on the trade deadline and the All-Star break. The former always provides plenty of chaos while the latter delivers a ton of debate. There have been pleasant surprises like the Cavs and Grizzlies, and feel-good stories like the return of Klay Thompson. The league never disappoints at providing drama.

There is still a lot of basketball to be played, and there will be numerous changes over the coming weeks and months, but looking back at the first half of the season, these are the leading candidates for the regular season NBA awards, along with the betting odds for these futures. We will revisit this list after all 82 games have been played, but this is where things stand right now around the league.

Midseason NBA Awards Odds and Picks

Executive of the Year: Artūras Karnišovas, Bulls | Midseason NBA Awards

Heading into this season, the leading candidates for this award were Pat Riley and Rob Pelinka. Their high-profile point guard acquisitions have had mediocre results thus far, but the Heat are in far better shape than the Lakers. This is about Artūras Karnišovas though, after Chicago made the polarizing move to bring in DeMar DeRozan to pair with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. These three have been absolutely incredible, leading the Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference.

While DeRozan has been playing at an MVP level this season, the Bulls have had solid contributions from their other new acquisitions. Lonzo Ball has been as advertised, fitting in perfectly with this core. The addition of Alex Caruso has been a major reason why Chicago’s defense is so improved. Even rookie Ayo Dosunmu has been a vital part of their rotation. There was also the deal for disgruntled Lauri Markkanen that landed them Derrick Jones Jr, who had been flourishing in his role before suffering a knee injury last night.

Cleveland’s Koby Altman and Golden State’s Bob Meyers both deserve recognition here but the award this season deserves to go to Karnisovas and his staff in Chicago.

Coach of the Year: Taylor Jenkins, Grizzlies | Midseason NBA Awards

While this award seems like it should go to the team finishing with one of the best records in the league, it typically goes to the team that has overachieved their preseason expectations. So while guys like Steve Kerr (+300 odds), Monty Williams (+400), and Erik Spoelstra (+800) are deserving, there are a few other candidates (JB Bickerstaff) that seem more likely to capture the award this season.

It starts with Jenkins (+600), and the job he has done in Memphis. Now in his third full season, the player-friendly coach has gotten his young team to buy in on both sides of the floor and it is paying dividends. The Grizzlies are in position to have one of the top four seeds in the West, which means home-court advantage in the playoffs. Ja Morant has emerged as a star and several other players like Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr, Dillon Brooks, and Brandon Clarke have progressed extremely well under Jenkins.

Memphis is a team that is still very young and inexperienced but, like their head coach, they believe in what they are building. The Grizzlies might not have all of the tools to come out of the West this year, but they are arguably the league’s most exciting team to watch over the next few seasons. Jenkins will credit everyone but himself for their rise, but he is the engine behind this powerful machine.

NBA Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro, Heat | Midseason NBA Awards

All of these awards are difficult but the Sixth Man of the Year usually comes down to one or two players. The Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson’s of the world have been dominating this award for years, but there are more legitimate candidates already this season.

After a sophomore slump last season, Herro (-278 odds) put the league on notice from the drop of the gate. The former Kentucky guard was lighting up the box score seemingly every night, and there wasn’t a defensive scheme in place to stop him from scoring. With Miami’s injuries and absences this year, coupled with the struggles of Duncan Robinson, Herro has been a savior for the Heat on many game nights.

This award is far from over though, and there are several other names to watch down the stretch. Kelly Oubre (+1400) has flourished in his role off the bench in Charlotte. Kevin Love has accepted his role in Cleveland and the Cavs are thriving because of it. Patty Mills (+8000), Jordan Poole (+5000), and Jalen Brunson (+2500) all deserve recognition for their outstanding play as well, as they move back to the bench as their teams get healthy. Keep an eye on this one as the season moves along.

Most Improved Player: Dejounte Murray, Spurs | Midseason NBA Awards

This award often goes to the breakout player, but some voters exclude second-year players for the simple fact that they are supposed to be better by default after their rookie season. While that is easy to understand, it shouldn’t exclude someone for that reason alone. There are several candidates that fall into that category, most notably Desmond Bane (+3500) in Memphis. He isn’t the only member of that team that is up for that award, with Morant (-104) blossoming into an All-Star guard in his third season.

Another third-year point guard that has burst into the spotlight this year is Darius Garland (+1600). Cleveland has had a lot of success this season thanks to their big men but Garland has been the consistent difference-maker. Miles Bridges (+300) of Charlotte and Jordan Poole (+3500) in Golden State are two others that are vying for this award.

Halfway through the season though, the leader in the clubhouse should be Murray (+1200). The Seattle product is playing exceptionally well in his fifth season as he ranks top-30 in scoring and top-25 in rebounding. He leads the league in steals and ranks 4th in assists. He has seven triple-doubles this year – only Russell Westbrook has more. Stuffing the stat sheet and his career-high averages in nearly every category is mesmerizing, but it is his vision and leadership that Gregg Popovich appreciates the most.

Rookie of the Year: Evan Mobley, Cavaliers | Midseason NBA Awards

The league’s top rookie doesn’t always end up winning this award, and that may very well be the case again this year. That isn’t a knock on anyone, in particular, there are just several good candidates to choose from. Franz Wagner might actually be Orlando’s top pick from the draft over Jalen Suggs. Jalen Green (+3500) is oozing with potential but Houston is struggling to play good basketball and he is developing bad habits.

Josh Giddey (+2000) is the real deal and finally gives the Thunder some real talent to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The top pick from the draft, Cade Cunningham (+500), finally appears to be turning the corner and has been playing very well the last couple of weeks. This award just feels like it will come down to two guys.

Scottie Barnes (+300) was the surprise pick by Toronto at number four but he is making the doubters eat their words. The prized forward has been playing at an elite level all season for the Raptors and should be considered the co-favorite at this point with Mobley, who is the betting favorite (-125) to win the award. The big man is an excellent fit next to Jarrett Allen and a major reason why the Cavs have been the surprise team of the season. It’s likely a two-horse race, and both Mobley and Barnes are worthy of winning.

Defensive POY: Draymond Green, Warriors | Midseason NBA Awards

The list is long for the Defensive POY candidates, which is nothing new. Nearly every team in the league has a dominant defender, and some have more than one. Being a defensive anchor is a challenge in itself but defending multiple positions has now become almost a requirement to win this award.

A few of the names are familiar, as three-time DPOY winner Rudy Gobert (+240) leads a trio of former winners with Giannis Antetokounmpo (+1000) and Draymond Green (-110). There are several players that could earn the honor for the first time, including Mikal Bridges (+2000) and Myles Turner (+5000). There are even some teammates battling for the award, such as Joel Embiid (+3000) and Matisse Thybulle (+4000) in Philadelphia, as well as Jarrett Allen (+4000) and Evan Mobley (+3000) in Cleveland.

Green is in the driver’s seat right now, but this will likely fluctuate as the season plays out. Some guys just haven’t been on the floor enough, and could be in contention by season’s end. That group would include players like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, and Alex Caruso.

NBA MVP: Kevin Durant, Nets | Midseason NBA Awards

The top award handed out at the end of every season features the elite superstars that have been able to translate their production into team success. The recipient of the coveted Maurice Podoloff trophy is almost always the centerpiece of a championship-contending team. The NBA MVP race will once again come down to the final weeks of the regular season.

Antetokounmpo (+750) will be aiming for his third MVP in the last four seasons, while Nikola Jokic (+1400) tries to repeat after winning the award last season. Stephen Curry is considered the betting favorite (+135) to win it for a third time after going back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. His former teammate Durant (+220) won it the year before him, and could very well win it again at the age of 33. Durant leads the league in scoring and is top-five in Player Efficiency Rating while also averaging 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game.

DeMar DeRozan (+3500) is a legitimate candidate as well, as he has fueled Chicago’s turnaround. Several other names to monitor in the second half of the season are LeBron James (+3000), Joel Embiid (+5000), and Luka Doncic (+6600). These guys are carrying mediocre teams by putting up insane stat lines on a nightly basis. In short, no one player is running away with this award, which makes the second half of the season even more exciting to watch. Buckle up, because a lot of this will change as we inch closer to the postseason.

Chad is a Basketball Insiders contributor based in Indianapolis.

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