The TGH Staff Picks series continues. This time we’ll be giving our takes on who the NBA’s Most Improved Player was this season. Unlike the MVP and Rookie of the Year races, the Most Improved Player Award could go to any number of players who have stepped their game up in a major way this season and the staff’s picks reflect that. Here are The Game Haus staff picks for the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
Spencer: Bam Adebayo
When looking at the Most Improved Player Award it’s important to remember the value of a player’s all-around game. Too often the award goes to the person who had the biggest jump in scoring without looking at their overall performance. This is why Bam Adebayo is a better choice than other players like Devonte Graham and Brandon Ingram. Both Graham and Ingram made big jumps in the scoring department but neither saw a huge improvement on the defensive end and only Ingram got significantly better efficiency-wise. Neither of them have brought much team success either, both of them sit on teams well out of the playoffs.
Bam Adebayo, on the other hand, has elevated all facets of his game. Most notable on the court has been his passing vision. He went from about an average passing center to one of the best passing big men in the league last year, averaging over five assists a night. His scoring doubled from eight to 16 points per game while maintaining great efficiency. And he continues to be one of the best defensive players in the league, maintaining a top-ten rating in almost every defensive metric. Most important of all the Miami Heat are having their best season in years led by Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.
Adam: Luka Doncic
The NBA’s Most Improved Player award is one of the hardest to select. The award is based on the voter’s perspective on improvement and what it means in relation to the rest of the players
and how they have improved. If you measure improvement objectively, Devonte’ Graham is likely the best choice. Graham improved his numbers in all major statistical categories, upping his scoring average by an incredible 13.5 points and nearly tripling his assists. Going from a relatively unknown backup, to your team’s leading scorer and playmaker in just one season is staggering and definitely
But this season has shown the different levels of improvement. Luka Doncic made a 7.5-point jump in his scoring average on better efficiency, while also upping his assist and rebounding numbers. This came after a historic rookie season that sent Doncic straight to the top of the scouting report. Doncic may not have made the biggest leap in improvement, but his was the most difficult. Going from a fringe All-Star to MVP-level player is one of the most difficult things to do in the NBA and Luka Doncic has done it in just his second season, that’s why Luka Doncic is the 2020 NBA Most Improved Player.
Zach: Devonté Graham
There are many solid choices for this years’ Most Improved Player award. While players like Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram have made the leap into All-Star-level scorers this season, many players that flew under the radar have improved greatly this season; most notably, Charlotte’s Devonté Graham.
In a starting role for the Hornets, Graham has drastically improved his numbers since last season, more so than any other contender for the award. Taken with the 34th pick in 2018, the point guard out of Kansas played only 15 minutes per game his first season, averaging about five points per game. This season, he averages 18 points and 7.5 assists per game.
While his shooting percentages could be better, Graham as improved greatly since his rookie season. In Charlotte, Graham is a key part of the team’s future, which often seems bleak. Devonté Graham has made his mark this season and deserves to win the Most Improved Player Award.
Ben: Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram’s points per game alone could win him Most Improved Player.
He was already a key piece of the Lakers before they traded away a king’s ransom for Anthony Davis. But he has found his niche in the young core of the Pelicans. The only stat in which he did not improve is field goal percentage. In fact, he has already played more games in 2019-2020 than he did last year, meaning these numbers are not a fluke. Ingram is the most improved player, hands down. Considering he was already a good scoring option, this means even more for his team.
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