NBA Most Improved Player Award: Who deserves it more?
With all teams reaching the 50-game mark and the All-Star game nearing, we can now assess the candidates of some awards accurately. However, when it comes to unpredictability, the Most Improved Player is the best. Since there so many players every year that show progress from their previous season, it is hard to determine a clear-cut winner. There are many players that not only have improved their stats, but they are helping their team a lot in the win-loss column. Here are some players that should be considered for this year’s recipient of the Most Improved Player award.
Asik is having a solid season this year. The Turkish Hammer is averaging career highs in points per game (10.5), rebounds per game (11.5) and blocks per game (1.2).He has already shown us what he was able to do in his Chicago days. However, not many expected him to be a consistent double-double machine with the Rockets. His work on the boards and his defensive efforts are a few reasons why the Houston Rockets are having a respectable season.
Many thought that the Pacers would regress from last year due to Danny Granger’s knee injury. All doubts were erased with the emergence of Paul George. George is averaging career-bests in points per game (17.5), rebounds per game (7.7), assist per game (3.8), steals per game (1.8) and 3-point field goal percentage (0.388). More importantly, George successfully replaced Granger as the main scoring option for the Pacers. His play earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Due in part to George’s career year, the Pacers are still one of the top teams in the East.
From 6th on one team to superstar on another. James Harden is carrying the Houston Rockets on his back. Harden is averaging career-highs in points per game (26.1), rebounds per game (4.7) , assists per game (5.7) and steals per game (1.8). Harden’s 26.1 pointer per game is also 5th best in the entire league. The trade to the Houston Rockets was a good thing for Harden, as many fans can see how good he really is. He does not have to play in Durant and Westbrook’s shadow anymore, however, he has a huge responsibility to score points every game as none of his teammates average more than 15 points a game.
Vasquez seems to have the whole package: His scoring is decent (14 ppg), his passing is phenomenal (9.4 assists per game) and is rebounding is solid for a Point Guard (4.6). Despite the fact that Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon have missed numerous games due to injury, it is impressive that Vasquez has still managed to rack up 9.4 assists per game. Although New Orleans is having a poor season, Pelican fans have a lot of reasons to be excited: Antony Davis will eventually improve in the following seasons, they will most-likely have a lottery pick this year and the Pelicans don’t have any worries at the PG spot for at least a few years .
Who would’ve ever thought that Nikola Vucevic would be only 0.1 rebounds away from being the league leader? The Montenegrin Center is averaging career-bests in points (12.5), rebounds (11.6), blocks (1.1), and field goal %. He is a sophomore and usually second-year player do improve drastically, but there aren’t that much expectations for a mid-first round pick. Will he replace Dwight Howard as Orlando’s franchise Center? He might not be as dominant as Dwight once was, but he could still be one of the better Centers in the league for years to come.
Another question: Aside from hardcore Bucks fans, who would’ve ever thought that Larry Sanders would lead the league in blocks? The Milwaukee big is averaging a career-high and league-leading 3.2 blocks a game – in only 25 minutes a game. Not only has the 3rd year player upped his blocks, but he is also averaging career highs in points per game (8.5), rebounds per game (8.5) and field-goal% (0.525). Once his game is a bit more polished in the future, this man can be threat on offense, on the glass and on defense.
It is really difficult to choose one of these players as a winner as all of them have turned their careers around and are helping their team in many ways.