The Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year awards may get all the attention, but there is another award that some of the league’s best players have received. That award is the Most Improved Player award.
The Most Improved Player award goes to a player who’s made drastic improvements in their game and goes on to do great things. In some cases, they could have been one of the last players off the bench, and in an instant, they are a star caliber player. So, it is safe to say that hard work pays off.
Giannis Antetokounmpo won Most Improved Player in 2017, and others like Jimmy Butler and Paul George won before that. Last year’s recipient was New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, who’s been in the league since 2014 but had a breakout season in 2019. Could another player follow that path?
Here are three players that could win Most Improved Player.
1.) Miles Bridges
His stats have gone up in nearly every category (including steals and blocks), and his contributions make the Charlotte Hornets a potential playoff team.
While his shooting percentages have dropped, he’s still a valuable player. And come playoff time, he’ll be a player the Hornets can count on.
2.) Ja Morant
What can be said about Ja Morant? Morant is an exciting young player who keeps getting better. He was the 2020 Rookie of the Year, and since then, some of his stats have improved.
He averages 24.1 points (around five points more than 2020-21) this season and started the season hot. He started 2021-22 with a 37 point game, and two games later, he scored 40. At one point, he led the league in scoring until players like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant took over. Morant is a star in the making, and despite a few setbacks (including a knee injury and entering the health and safety protocol), he could finish the season strong.
3.) Darius Garland
Darius Garland is a third-year player who’s making a name for himself this season. He averages 18.9 points and 7.5 assists (both career highs) and has eight double-doubles this season.
Garland has become a young leader for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are one of the league’s biggest surprises this season. The Cavs are fourth in the East, and for a team fresh out of the NBA lottery, this is an impressive feat. And Garland plays a big part in that. The Cavs guard is playing well with Cleveland’s big lineup (Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen), and the alley-oops have been nonstop. If Garland and the Cavs maintain their competitive spirit, they’ll be an exciting team for years to come.
The Most Improved Players race is getting exciting, and any of these players (or some who weren’t mentioned, like Cole Anthony or Dejounte Murray could get it. We’ll see what happens.