The annual award of most improved player is given out to the player that finally takes that jump that takes them up to a high-level player, with the two winners being CJ McCollum and Jimmy Butler, two of the top shooting guards in the NBA today. This award is all about seeing who takes that jump and it usually comes with a large increase in points per game and finally giving a high potential player the chance to shine.
Projected stats: 23 ppg 5.5 assists 8 rebounds 1.5 steals
The Greek Freak is a player I know a lot of NBA fans are really excited to see this season, I mean a 6’11” point guard? How is any team going to match up with that? But with the jump he took last year to average 16 ppg while shooting over 50% while playing forward, he will now have the ball in his hands a lot more while still seeing time at forward with pass first guards coming off the bench. Also with the absence of Khris Middleton, there will need to be a jump of scoring from the players on that Bucks roster and I see Giannis taking most of those shots.
Projected stats: 20 ppg 2 assists 3 rebounds
Devin Booker is a player to watch and he has received praise from the best of the best around the league. Being one of the 4 players to ever have multiple 30 point games as a teenager and the other 3 being LBJ, KD, and Melo; that’s pretty good company. Predicting his numbers for this upcoming season can be very challenging due to the fact he plays in a crowded backcourt and probably won’t even start, but with injury prone Bledsoe and Knight playing in front of him, if one of them goes down early, I think this award is his.
Projected stats: 16 ppg 9 rebounds 2 assists
Being in the slam dunk competition last year (should’ve won) really got his name out there and now is known as a human highlight real, and he definitely is, but I believe this year he is going to show he is so much more. With the Magic saying they are going to play him at small forward that will really give him a chance to use that athleticism in open space and if he developed his jumper this offseason he could be an offensive weapon. The only problem with him would be the log jam up front with Vucevic, Ibaka, and Biyombo all fighting from minutes at the PF/C spots, if Gordon can’t hit a three then it will be a spacing nightmare.
Projected stats: 22 ppg 5 rebounds 4 assists
Being traded from the Magic to the Thunder is exactly what Oladipo needed to take the next step in his career. Obviously with KD leaving the Thunder there will be a lot of shots that need to go to someone else and while I think most of them will go to Westbrook, Oladipo will be expected to score 20 on a nightly basis if the Thunder are going to be winning team. While Victor isn’t a great 3 point shooter, he can still knock it down when he needs to and Westbrook is a tremendous passer and will be able to find him on cuts and alley oops. This is going to be a very fun, athletic backcourt to watch this season.
D' Angelo Russell
Projected Stats: 19 ppg 5assists 3 rebounds
D’Angelo has shown he can score the ball and without Kobe taking all those possessions it would be surprising not to see a jump in numbers from the former Louisville star. While I don’t believe his numbers will make a big jump till about halfway through the season when the Lakers realize that they aren’t a playoff team and go more towards a youth movement and fee Russell, Clarkson, and Ingram the ball to try to develop their young talent.