Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Who Actually Should Have Been the NBA's Most Improved Player?

Today, it was announced that Paul George of the Indiana Pacers won the Most Improved Player Award for the 2012-13 season. In my mind, there were three players that could have won. Here are their stats from last year.

Player A: 12.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, .440 FG%
Player B: 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, .432 FG%
Player C: 12.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, .366 FG%

Now here are their stats from this season.

Player A: 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, .419 FG%
Player B: 17.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.0 assists, .431 FG%
Player C: 17.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, .423 FG%

Let's break this down. Player A improved his rebounding the most at +2, but his field goal percentage dropped over 2% from last season, which means that he took quite a few more shots to increase his scoring so much.

Player B averaged the most points per game last season out of the trio, but he had one of the biggest stat increases of any player in the NBA, improving his assists per game by +3.5. It should also be noted that Player B improved by leaps and bounds on the defensive end of the court.

Player C increased his scoring more than either of the other two, eventually landing at +5.6 in the category. This player also increased his assists by a respectable +1.3 and had a huge uptick in efficiency in raising his field goal percentage by nearly 6%.

Player A is Paul George, Player B is Jrue Holiday, and Player C is Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker.

I believe that it should have been Walker that won the award. Not only did he improve on the offensive side of the court, he more than doubled his steals per game average from 0.9 to 2.0.

He did this all for a team that gave 27 minutes per game or more to Byron Mullens, Ramon Sessions and Josh McRoberts. Add on another 20 or so minutes each for Ben Gordon, Hakim Warrick, and Brendan Haywood.

Let me repeat that. Brendan Haywood.

Somehow, Kemba Walker led this team to 21 wins. Somehow, they weren't the worst team in the NBA.

People keep telling me that I need to keep George's defense in mind in the fact that he won. Except the only problem with that is he was a good defensive player last year. If you're going to make that argument, at least tell me I should be in favor of Holiday.

I think the biggest case against Walker was that he plays in Charlotte, and nobody cares about the Bobcats. Nobody watched him play this year. His team was bad and wasn't in a big market, so he got overlooked.

What's really exciting is that all three of these players have a seemingly limitless ceiling of potential going forward, and I wouldn't be surprised if any one of them made a run at Most Improved Player again next season.

-Sean Lerman

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