With the NBA regular season coming to a close it’s time for awards week at The Hoops Manifesto. We’ve teamed up with some of Bloguin’s best NBA writers to vote on who gets the (virtual) hardware. First up: Most Improved Player.
Voters: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, College Wolf and Dan Bonk from TWolves Blog, Aaron Hodges from Knicks Fanatics and Sean François from from Hoop Heads North.
Bloguin’s NBA Most Improved Player:
Kevin Love – Minnesota Timberwolves
20.2 ppg, 15.2 rpg, 2.5 apg
The NBA’s Most Improved Player award is a bit of a backhanded compliment, and can also be the kiss of death. Saying you are the most improved is basically saying “you were pretty crappy before, but you’ve gotten better”. Or “you’re not quite as ugly as before”. It can also be the kiss of death, as many players who have won it in the past revert back to being “pretty crappy” the next season. Much of this is due to voters casting their votes for players whose stats have only increased because they had an increase in minutes and/or shots taken.
With all that being said, none of the above applies to our choice for this year’s award, Kevin Love. He wasn’t crappy before, and he won’t be crappy afterwards. And while it’s true that Love got more minutes this year (7.2 more minutes per game), it doesn’t account for the huge bump-up in his stats – he was much more productive during his minutes on the floor this season than last (his Win Shares/48 minutes jumped from .138 last year to .210 this season – the average player posts a .100 score). While it is also true that it is expected for a former fifth overall pick in the draft to improve drastically over his first few seasons in the League, no one predicted that Love would be putting up averages of 20 & 15 by his third year as a pro (or, for that matter, ever). The big problem facing Love now is – how does he improve on that?