Quantcast 2010 NBA: Most improved player award

 

And This Year's Most Improved Player Is...

 

 

This year's individual regular season awards have been, for the most part, predictable. Although Kevin Durant is making himself a more worthy candidate every time he steps on the floor lately, LeBron James has pretty much locked up the league's highest individual honor, the Most Valuable Player award. There is, of course, an exception if the Thunder can pull off the #2 or #3 seed in the West, but that is highly doubtful. James has also been in the discussion for the Defensive Player of the Year award, and his name along with Dwight Howard are the only two that I have heard most frequently regarding this award. Then, there is the Rookie of the Year award, which Tyreke Evans has totally sealed up. However, there is one award that remains mysterious, as it is almost every season. This is the Most Improved Player award, and I have narrowed the field down to four nominees. Two of them were All-Stars for the first time in their careers this season, while the other two unfortunately missed out. So who are these four possible MIP winners? In order of most likely to win the award, they are the following players: Aaron Brooks, Brook Lopez, Chris Kaman, and Rajon Rondo. So, the two guys who missed out on the big game in Dallas are my top two candidates. Who'da thunk it?

 

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Aaron Brooks and Brook Lopez have more in common than just the obvious similarities between the former's last name and the latter's first name. Both guys have experienced dramatic increases in production this season, and, more specifically, both are averaging between 19 and 20 points per game. Brooks gets the slight nod over Lopez for the award because he has improved from 11.2 PPG in 2008-2009 to 19.7 PPG in 2009-2010. Additionally, his assist numbers have gone up by over two a game since last year, and he has made significant improvements in both field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. Brooks has increased virtually every one of his stats since last year, whether minorly or majorly. Did I mention he's gone from 25 minutes a game to 35 minutes a game this season? Well, he's taken full advantage of that. In my opinion, this should be enough to get him the honor over Brook Lopez, who, despite playing on a 6-52 team, has individually improved dramatically. His scoring is up this season by over six points a night, but his rebounding has not gone up as much as I would have liked it to, and the decline in his field goal percentage is what really hurts his chances at getting the award.

 

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As far as the dark horses are concerned, Chris Kaman and Rajon Rondo were first-time All-Stars this season, but they may not be as likely to win the MIP award over a guy like Aaron Brooks. Kaman has bounced back very impressively from an injury-ridden season last year. His scoring average has gone up by 7.5 points per game, from 12.0 to 19.5. However, while his rebounding numbers have gone up by about one per night, declines in both field goal and free throw percentage can ultimately prevent him from winning the honor. As for Rondo, he has improved, but just not as much as the previously mentioned candidates. His assists are up this year from 8.2 to 10.0, and he leads the league in steals with 2.5 a game. However, his free throw percentage has gone down by almost five percent, and his rebounding numbers are also down. His scoring has only improved by 2.2 points per game, which is not nearly as significant as the other candidates'. While Rondo has gotten the most hype this season because of his team's success, the MIP award is not his for the taking.

So, did I leave anyone out? That's for you to decide. The Most Improved Player award is always the most unpredictable and interesting award to ponder from the very beginning of the season all the way to the final day. I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

 

By: Steven Barile
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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