The NY Knicks season is about a month away and the Vegas odds for next season have been released.
Some of the most anticipated Knicks’ odds for the upcoming season have been the team’s implied win total, their playoff prospects, and specific player awards.
NY Knicks: Can RJ Barrett win Most Improved Player?
One of our writers, James Ryder, put out an article detailing which players on the NY Knicks have the strongest chance of winning Most Improved Player next season. RJ Barrett was at the top of the list.
Young RJ Barrett is coming off a significant jump from his rookie season to his 2nd-year performance last season. In the words of the great Walt Clyde Frazier, can he take yet another quantum leap?
Vegas sportsbooks don’t have him as a real front-runner. They have him tied for the 21st highest odds to win the Most Improved Player.
The list of 20 players ahead of him goes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Zion Williamson, Michael Porter Jr., Kevin Porter Jr., Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton, Christian Wood, Jaren Jackson, Jaylen Brown, John Collins, Chris Boucher, De’Aaron Fox, Jerami Grant, Tyrese Haliburton, Derrick White, Domantas Sabonis, and Ben Simmons. RJ Barrett is a +3000 to win Most Improved Player, tied with Ja Morant, Fred VanVleet, and Lonzo Ball.
With Most Improved Player, you have to look at a few different factors. We have our very own Julius Randle as last year’s winner to use as a comparison.
Randle had every narrative going for him. He took a huge statistical jump and efficiency jump, and he was at the center of a team that completely exceeded expectations.
I think it’s attainable for Barrett. There may be some mouths to feed on this Knicks team, but I do believe there’s still room for Barrett to flirt with 20 points per game. It’s still going to take more than that.
If I’m to come up with a realistic path for Barrett to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, I think he would have to make a jump in his individual defense that is impossible to ignore. He’s going to have that opportunity.
With Reggie Bullock’s departure, Barrett is likely going to take on a lot of heavy defensive responsibility in guarding opposing teams’ best wing players. Barrett has a lot of the physical tools and discipline to make a jump on defense, but it could take time.
Barrett needs to get his averages up to around 20 points and assists with increased efficiency from the field. He needs to elevate his defense to show that he’s a lockdown defender on the wing.
On top of that, the Knicks need to show they belong. They need to charge right back into the season and reclaim that 4th seed.