The Most Improved Player award is one of the greatest honors a player can get, as it’s a huge recognition of all the effort and work they’ve put during the offseason and a big step in the right direction of young players that want to make some noise in the Association.
In order to win this award, you need to do way more than just rack up stats, although the league has a tendency to give this silverware to the guy whose point per game average improve a lot from one season to another.
Nonetheless, the impact those players has on their respective teams and the fact that they have to be able to sustain that kind of performances throughout the entire campaign also has a great influence in the voting, with guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo proving that you’ve got to do a little bit of everything to take home the prize.
Even if Giannis made it really difficult for new players to impress us and easily take the award, there are several players that seem to be on a prime position to become the league’s Most Improved Player, and today we’re going to offer you guys our 7 men shortlist.
7. JaMychal Green
JaMychal Green has never been much of an impressive player or merely something else than a role guy, but now that he’s finally going to have the chance to be a starter and rack up a lot of playing time, he might as well finally prove his worth and take the next step in his career.
Averaging 7.4 points and 5.4 boards per game, the former Spur and current starting power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies is going to have to try and fill the void that Zach Randolph left, and considering the Grizzlies won’t be playing to contend this season and may actually kickstart their rebuild at some point of the campaign, he’s going to have a lot of touches to improve his stats.
Update: According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, JaMychal Green (ankle) is expected to miss several weeks.
6. Jusuf Nurkic
We all expected a lot out of Jusuf Nurkic when he first suited up for the Denver Nuggets, and even though he showed a lot of glances of what he was capable off, he was never able to fulfill the expectations, especially considering how crowded the Nuggs’ frontcourt was and Nikola Jokic’s sure.
Now, he's entering his first full season as the Portland Trail Blazers’ starting center and rim protection and considering his sweet offensive touch, he’s going to really help RIP City contend for a playoff spot, forming a low-key big three with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
5. Thon Maker
Thon Maker has been a subject of a lot of controversy due to his reported age, but he’s proven that all the attention he’s gotten is worth it every time he has been called to go out there and lock the Milwaukee Bucks paint down low.
Maker has a really high ceiling and he’s going to start from day one for Jason Kidd’s squad, with not much competition for the starting gig in Greg Monroe and John Henson. So, if he’s able to live up to the expectations and average a double-double, he’s definitely going to be on the MIP conversation, trying to get the award to Milwaukee for the 2nd season in a row.
4. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon has been in this league for some years already and he’s failed to live up to the expectations, and he knows this season will be crucial for him if he intends to become a top-tier power forward in the league, and his preseason performances make it look like he’s finally going to have that breakout season.
Gordon worked with a sports psychology company during the offseason and is already looking way more confident and light, and it seems like he’s finally developed some shooting stroke, so with the Magic already looking ahead to the next campaign, he’s going to have a lot of playing time to rack up stats and not look like the bust he seems so far.
3. Myles Turner
Myles Turner was one of the clear frontrunners to win this award the prior campaign, but a poor second half of the past season really took a toll in the voting, struggling to be a dominant rebounder despite having an elite physique and feel for the game.
Still, Turner is a complete as it gets and he’s the best player in the young Indiana Pacers squad, and he continues to have a sweet offensive touch from distance while also being able to play lockdown defense and become an elite two way big man for the future, and he won’t have any kind of pressure on his shoulders other than developing his game this year.
2. Brandon Ingram
Brandon Ingram was one of the biggest disappointments of the prior campaign, as he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him, mightily struggling with his shot and seeing his minutes kind of limited in the early going due to Luol Deng’s presence.
Now, he’s been even called out by Magic Johnson, who reportedly expects a lot out of the youngster. Neither Summer League or preseason have been really good, but there’s no doubt that Ingram has the kind of skillset to be an elite two way player for the Lakers future, and he’s going to have a lot of touches to prove that this season.
1. Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown had already shown a lot of incredible things the prior campaign, proving to be a really committed defender, a willingful passer and an athletic freak with some room for improvement when it comes to his shot.
Now, with Gordon Hayward most likely out for the season, he’s going to have a bunch load of minutes and the need to step up, with the Celtics desperately needing someone to help Kyrie on the scoreboard. Besides, his defensive skill and upside and his versatility make him a prime candidate to win this award, as well as the fact that Boston’s very likely to finish real high on the standings this season.