MIP is an underrated award that is usually difficult to predict prior to any new season. Most of the time the improvement from particular players comes from absolutely nowhere, and sometimes the players most likely to win the award end up regressing. Will it be won by a third year breakout player? Or will new teams for some prove to be the right move?
#5 – Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Season No.: 3 (151 games) Age: 22 – (18 July 1997)
Award History: None
2018-19 Averages: 23.3 mpg, 8.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.8 bpg, 57.6% FG, 20.0% 3P, 73.5% FT, 17.9 PER, 6.8 WS
For a 22-year-old, Bam is an absolute UNIT, and last season he showed flashes of how good of a player he can be. Since Miami has finally moved on from Hassan Whiteside, Bam now literally becomes the centrepiece of the team, and with a fairly lacklustre group of defensive talls and inside scorers around him, Bam will get every opportunity to improve both offensively and defensively. Last season Bam improved in every category, so in his third season you would expect this trend to continue.
#4 – Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards
Season No.: 3 (87 games) Age: 22 – (31 July 1997)
Award History: None
2018-19 Averages: 20.8 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.9 bpg, 61.6% FG, 33.3% 3P, 78.1% FT, 21.0 PER, 5.6 WS
Thomas Bryant was a huge pick up for the Wizards, who managed to gain votes for Most Improved Player last year. Having been awarded All G-League 1st Team honours in 2018, the Wizards got a big man who was able to have an instant impact and bring some toughness and excitement to a struggling Wizards team. In what’s looking like a bleak season for Washington, Bryant looks like a player who’ll want to motivate and get behind the team as much as possible, and with Dwight Howard gone too, he will be given a lot more opportunity to continue improving his game.
#3 – Jordan Bell, Minnesota Timberwolves
Season No.: 3 (125 games) Age: 24 – (7 January 1995)
Award History: NBA Champion (2018)
2018-19 Averages: 11.6 mpg, 3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.8 bpg, 51.6% FG, 00.0% 3P, 61.0% FT, 12.9 PER, 1.6 WS
To say that Golden State suffocated the development of Jordan Bell last season is an understatement, especially after quite an exciting rookie year. With Minnesota, Jordan Bell will undoubtedly have at least double the playing time and double the responsibility. With a team lacking in defence, Bell will have an important role to play, and he will have the opportunity to spread knowledge learnt from the Warriors. Out of all the favourites for this award, statistically, Jordan Bell has the largest amount of improvement available.
#2 – Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
Season No.: 5 (272 games) Age: 25 – (17 March 1994)
Award History: None
2018-19 Averages: 22.7 mpg, 9.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.3 bpg, 38.7% FG, 35.3% 3P, 78.5% FT, 12.9 PER, 3.2 WS
After receiving votes for Most Improved Player in 2018, it’s fair to say that Rozier had an off year (rhyme intended). Scary Terry has been doing a good job as backup Point Guard for Boston over the last 3 years, evident by garnering votes in Sixth Man of the Year voting in 2018, but last year showed signs of slowing. Now, Rozier gets to rise to the occasion and become a franchise cornerstone and starting Point Guard. With plenty to improve upon, Rozier is absolutely poised to have a breakout season, and hopefully he will give Charlotte fans a reason to be excited.
#1 – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Season No.: 4 (119 games) Age: 22/23 – (19 September 1996)
Award History: All Defensive 2nd Team (2018)
2018-19 Averages: Did not play (torn ACL)
2017-18 Averages: 21.5 mpg, 8.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.4 bpg, 44.3% FG, 26.5% 3P, 70.9% FT, 15.1 PER, 3.2 WS
In the preseason of 2018, Murray was one of the favourites to win Most Improved Player, but he unfortunately went down with a torn ACL and subsequently missed the entire season. But with what seems to be a solid year of rehabilitation and dedication to his health, Murray looks set to come back even better than ever.
The Next 5:
#6 O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
#7 Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers
#8 Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
#9 Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets
#10 Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Clippers
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
The fact that Andrew Wiggins can be considered for this award is embarrassing and laughable. From being an unstoppable rookie to now essentially being the laughing stock of the NBA, will Andrew Wiggins finally face the music and start living up to his max contract? There is A LOT of room for improvement, and it should be pretty easy for him to step up heading into his 6th season.