Community Shootaround: Most Improved Player

Over the course of this week, we’ve discussed a handful of awards for the 2019/20 NBA season, exploring what your ballots might look like if the regular season ends up being over. After tackling MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year, we’re moving on today to Most Improved Player.

As Dan Devine of The Ringer notes, there was no shortage this season of candidates for the MIP award. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, and Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson were among the many second-year players who made substantial improvements in year two.

For those who prefer to shy away from second-year players – who are, after all, expected to improve – Pistons big man Christian Wood could be a strong candidate. So could Celtics wing Jaylen Brown or Magic point guard Markelle Fultz, former top picks who had breakout seasons in 2019/20 — both earned honorable mentions from Zach Harper of The Athletic.

Many of the names that ultimately landed on Devine’s and Harper’s hypothetical ballots overlap. Heat big man Bam Adebayo, who was Devine’s runner-up, was Harper’s top choice. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram rounded out Harper’s top three, and also tied for third place on Devine’s list.

Devine’s choice for the award was a second-year player: Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who evolved from the league’s top rookie into a legit MVP candidate.

Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald, meanwhile, picked Tatum as this year’s Most Improved Player and gave honorable mention to Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis. I’m not sure I’m on board with the Hield pick – many of his numbers were better a year ago and he was removed from Sacramento’s starting lineup in January – but Sabonis is a strong candidate after emerging as one of the top centers in the conference.

The names provided by Devine, Harper, and Murphy don’t form an exhaustive list of candidates — you could identify at least one player who made major strides on just about every NBA team. Hawks star Trae Young, Wizards marksman Davis Bertans, Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet are among the others I’d look at if I were considering my own ballot.

But we want to know what you think. If you were putting together a three-man ballot for Most Improved Player in 2019/20, who would be on it?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

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16 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Most Improved Player

  1. natsfan3437

    Luka Doncic
    Went from non all star to starter, into the top 5 MVP race, and Mavericks made a jump as a team.

    • IntheBeginning

      I agree. Luka not only improved greatly, he made the team better than expected.

  2. Simmons>Russ

    I thought Luka last year should’ve been a all star starter and deserved more credit.
    I think Brandon Ingram is MIP and my top five would include Wood, Graham, Bertans and Brown.

    • martevious

      Wood? Look at his stats. He regressed in almost every category, he didn’t improve!

      • Simmons>Russ

        What are you looking at?
        Went from 2.8/1.5/0.2 with the Bucks to 13.1/6.3/1 with 1 block with the Pistons.

  3. jump shot

    I think Lonzo Ball is highly improved.
    I believe it’s more from getting away from dad (and home), than LeBron.

  4. khopper10

    Melo! If we’re throwing out Hield then we might as well pick someone who actually improved.

  5. Chucktoad1

    Lots of good candidates this year.
    1. Siakim- went from being a secondary piece to the focal point of the Raptors offense.
    2. Abedayo- Stepped into the starting role in Miami and immediately became one of the top defensive players in the league while also being the main facilitator for the Heat offense.
    3. Tatum- broke out to near stardom on both sides of the court. Scores efficiently from all 3 levels while showing the ability to guard nearly anyone on the court he it a quick guard some cases some stretch 5s.
    Honestly so many people to pick from though. Christian Wood, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Sabonis, Devontae Graham, Donicic and Young even Devin Booker, Robinson, Jaylen Brown and Shai would all be great picks.

  6. KnickerbockerAl

    Ingram, Shai, Adebayo in that order. Luka was ROY last yr. he was an all star this yr. that’s not most improved. It’s expected he be better.

  7. JD Candello

    I gotta say Ingram here…

    He went from a question mark to a potential max player…. Maybe thats most improved stock award? but he really took it to another level this year undeniable –

    Bam and Luka as well are great candidates

    • Afk711

      If Ingram was a free agent last year he gets 70-80 million. He was a very good player for the Lakers but no one admitted it until he was gone

  8. bowserhound

    IDK, Ingram went from a 2nd or 3rd option to a focal point while Zion rested. Sink or swim, and I don’t think anyone doubted that he would stand up on the Pels. Most improved player, or most improved circumstances?

  9. El Don

    1) Luka Doncic
    2) De’vonte Graham
    3) Bam Adebayo
    4) Trae Young
    5) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
    6) Brandon Ingram
    7) Jaylen Brown
    8) Fred VanVleet
    9) Domantas Sabonis
    10) Jayson Tatum

  10. Graham is the MIP.
    All the others are former top3 picks, or franchises’ keystones. Anyone could be shocked from their rise?
    Graham was a sidelined player…

    Wood… Yes but it’s true he started play After detroit’s lockdown

  11. martevious

    Doncic
    Trae Young
    Sabonis.
    Several of the other guys listed didn’t improve at all, but actually regressed.

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