Utah Jazz breakout star Lauri Markkanen is one of the favorites to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award this season, especially after scoring a career-high 49 points in a 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday.
In addition to scoring 49 points, the sixth-year forward had eight goals, one assist and one block in 37 minutes of action. He finished 15-of-27 (55.6%) from the floor and 6-of-15 (40%) from beyond the arc.
A handful of NBA betting sites are giving Lori Markkanen the second best chance to win Most Improved Player in the coming months. Sportsbooks say Oklahoma City Thunder icon Shay Gilgeous-Alexander is the favorite to win the award.
Last season, this season.
14.8 ppg 24.5 ppg
5.7 RPG 8.4 RPG
1.3 APG 1.9 APG
0.5 GDP 0.6 GDP
58 TS% 67 TS%
A much improved player pic.twitter.com/eh4cRMbh4F
— NBA Muse (@NBAMuse24) January 6, 2023
“I’ve said it over and over again this year, my teammates, the coaching staff, they put me in the right position to be successful,” Lauri Markkanen said after the win over Houston. “My teammates did a good job of getting the ball to me and I was finishing my shots…
“Jordan said, ‘Just go for 50.’ And I know they double-teamed me at the end, but I had to go for it. “I’m not too worried about not having it, but it’s great to see my teammates as excited as I am for them.”
Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen upped the ante for NBA Player of the Year with a game-high 49 points against the Rockets.
Prior to last night’s game, the wing’s game high was 38 points. This mark has been reached twice. The 25-year-old recorded 38 on Dec. 20 against the Detroit Pistons.
Not to mention, the Arizona product was flawless at the foul line, shooting 13-of-13 overall (100%). In 38 starts this season, Lauri Markkanen is averaging 24.5 points and 1.9 assists.
Lauri Markkanen tonight
2 will help
55.6% FG (15/27)
40% 3FG (6/15)
100% FT (13/13)
The Most Improved Player award is Laurie’s loser. pic.twitter.com/duz0sYrZUr
— Coast 2 Coast (@Coast2CoastNBA) January 6, 2023
Along with averaging 8.4 rebounds per game, the forward is shooting a career-best 52.9% from the field and 42% from 3-point range. Additionally, he has posted 14 double-doubles so far this season.
Jazz coach Will Hardy said of Lauri Markkanen, “He’s done such a good job of continuing to work on his game in different ways offensively. He’s shown an understanding of how to play when teams try to take things away from him.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also giving incredible performances. He averaged career highs of 30.9 points, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks with the Thunder. On December 23, in Oklahoma City’s 128-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, SGA scored a career-high 44 points.