Winning the NBA’S Most Improved Player award is way more important and significative than most people think, as it’s a great recognition of the effort, hard work and adjustment players go through in the offseason and throughout the entire campaign.
Even if most of those players are not considered as stars in the league, winning this accolade is a great way to make a name for themselves and earn the respect of their peers as guys that can turn a franchise around as role players.
This season, we’ve seen some great improvement from second and third-tier ballers that have truly stepped up for their respective sides, and today, we’re going to let you know about our top 10 candidates to take the MIP home.
Honorable Mention: Jamal Murray
10. Spencer Dinwiddie
2017-18: 12.6 PPG, 3.2 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.8 3PG, 28.8 MPG, Shooting Splits: 38/32/81
2018-19: 16.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.9 3PG, 28.4 MPG, Shooting Splits: 45/36/79
Spencer Dinwiddie is spending a lot of more time playing off-ball right now with D’Angelo Russell back in business, so that’s pretty much why his scoring numbers have gone up while his dimes have gone down.
Dinwiddie is not a flashy player, but he can get hot in the blink of an eye, especially from deep. He’s finding more consistency as a shooter, and we already know he’s a willing and talented facilitator as well.
9. Montrezl Harrell
2017-18: 11.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 17.0 MPG, Shooting Splits: 63/14/63
2018-19: 16.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 25.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 62/20/62
Montrezl Harrell was a complete non-factor in this league over his first couple of years, especially when he was playing for the Houston Rockets, but now, he’s one of the main reasons why the Clippers’ bench has thrived so much.
Harrell is establishing himself as a dominant rebounder in both ends of the hardwood and has made great strides in the defensive end as a shot-blocker as well. He’s completely outplayed Marcin Gortat and Boban Marjanovic for playing time.
8. Clint Capela
2017-18: 13.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 26.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 65/NA/56
2018-19: 17.6 PPG, 12.6 PPG, 1.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.8 BPG, 34.2 MPG, Shooting Splits: 63/NA/62
Clint Capela keeps improving in the offensive end of the floor. He’s become an elite roll man and is not so much of an offensive liability as he was earlier on his career, especially improving as a free-throw shooter.
Capela is already one of the league’s best rim protectors, and while James Harden is taking most of the credit for the Rockets’ recent run, he’s also been a major stud for D’Antoni’s team carrying the load without Chris Paul.
7. Domantas Sabonis
2017-18: 11.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 24.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 51/35/75
2018-19: 15.2 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, 25.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 62/71/77
Domantas Sabonis is really thriving in his second year with the Indiana Pacers, either coming off the bench or stepping up for the often-injured big man Myles Turner, who should be worried about his playing time.
Sabonis may not be much of a factor in defense, as he’s slow and tends to struggles when it comes to staying in front of stronger or faster opposition, but he’s as efficient as one can be in the offensive side of the hardwood.
6. Josh Richardson
2017-18: 12.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.6 3PG, 33.2 MPG, Shooting Splits: 45/37/84
2018-19: 18.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 2.5 3PG, 34.8 MPG Shooting Splits: 40/37/86
A year ago, Josh Richardson told the media that he wanted to lead the league in blocks despite playing at the shooting guard spot, and even though he didn’t deliver, he took a major step forward as a stopper.
Now, his offensive game is really starting to catch up as he’s gaining more confidence and shooting more shots as years go by. He’s slowly, yet steadily becoming a great two-way player in this league.
5. John Collins
2017-18: 10.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.2 3PG, 24.1 MPG, Shooting Splits: 57/34/71
2018-19: 18.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 3PG, 30.1 MPG, Shooting Splits: 57/33/71
For most of his rookie season, John Collins struggled mightily with personal fouls, something that took a major toll on his playing time and raised a lot of questions upon his ability to become a rim protector.
His timing has been quite better this season, his touch around the basket is as good as last year, and his playing time is up as he’s limited his foul trouble. He’s looking like a stud in the making.
4. Pascal Siakam
2017-18: 7.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 20.7 MPG, Shooting Splits: 50/22/62
2018-19: 15.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 30.9 MPG, Shooting Splits: 57/33/78
Pascal Siakam was yet another role player in the Raptors’ elite bench that didn’t get much recognition during last year’s run, but he’s shown that he’s more than ready to step up this season for the best team in the East.
Siakam has established himself as a dominant scorer and rebounder in both sides of the hardwood, has drastically improved his shooting stroke from deep, and has been a great offensive complement for Kawhi Leonard.
3. Buddy Hield
2017-18: 13.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.2 3PG, 25.3 MPG, Shooting Splits: 46/45/87
2018-19: 20.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 3.3 3PG, 31.2 MPG, Shooting Splits: 47/50/86
Early on, Buddy Hield was looking more like a bust than as the offensive stud we thought he’d become when he first entered the league, but it seems like those days are far behind for the Kings’ starting shooting guard.
Hield has finally found his groove from all three levels and has shot lights out for the Kings year-round. He’s improved in every single aspect of his game and looks poised to join the 50-40-90 club a couple of years from now.
2. Julius Randle
2017-18: 16.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.1 3PG, 26.7 MPG, Shooting Splits: 55/22/71
2018-19: 20.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.6 3PG, 29.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 54/30/72
Looking at their recent struggles, the Los Angeles Lakers must be really regretting to have let Julius Randle walk as a UFA in the summer, as the power-forward is playing the best ball of his career.
Alvin Gentry has proved again that he really knows how to make the most of his big men. Randle has improved as a ball-handler and looks more in control of his body, his release and arc have also improved drastically, and he makes a terrific duo with Anthony Davis.
1. De’Aaron Fox
2017-18: 11.6 PPG. 2.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 3PG, 27.8 MPG, Shooting Splits: 41/30/72
2018-19: 17.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 3PG, 31.5 MPG, Shooting Splits: 47/37/72
Following a disappointing start of his career, De’Aaron Fox improved a lot after last year’s All-Star break and has shown any signs of slowing down this season as one of the most entertaining players to watch.
Fox is one of the main reasons why the Kings are still pretty much alive in the playoff race. He’s one of the fastest players in the league, an outstanding playmaker and much-improved defender, and even his shooting has been way better during his sophomore year.