The end of the NBA regular season is extremely near. With that in mind, the major award races are becoming more heavily debated than ever. One award that sometimes flies under the radar is the Most Improved Player of the year (MIP).

This year, there are many deserving candidates. With multiple first-time All-Stars and surprise players, this race is going to be extremely close. Here are the three leading candidates as of April 7th. All odds subject to change.

Leading Candidates to Win NBA Most Improved Player of the Year

Candidate #1: Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen currently has the best odds at -250 odds. While the Jazz are now knocked out of the playoff chase, the first-time All-Star is tallying totals of 25.6 points, 8.6 total rebounds, and an effective field goal percentage of 58.6 percent.

Remember, the Utah Jazz were the surprise of the league at the start of the year and even spent a good portion of time at the top of the Western Conference standings. With how well Markkanen has developed and the leadership role he has taken on this year, the Jazz are in good hands for the future.

Candidate #2: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA) has really ascended into superstar status this year. He has put the Thunder in the thick of the play-in picture. SGA is also a candidate for the scoring title with a scoring average of 31.4 points per game. Not to mention, he is also tallying 4.8 total rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.

SGA is one of the quickest guards in the league and his ability to get to the rim is unmatched. The Thunder have a bright future with all their young talent. However, SGA must be who they build around going forward. He currently has odds of +200 to win the MIP award.

Candidate #3: Jalen Brunson

Many questioned the big contract the New York Knicks gave Jalen Brunson. Now, they are eating those words. Especially with how much the Dallas Mavericks are missing his presence all of a sudden. Brunson has helped the team lock up the number five seed in the Eastern Conference and has them back in the playoffs.

Brunson is having a career year with numbers of 24.0 points, 6.2 assists, and an effective field goal shooting percentage of 54.7 percent. He alongside All-Star, Julius Randle, has formed one of the more underrated duos in the league this season. Jalen Brunson currently has +2600 odds to take home the Most Improved Player of the Year award this season.