Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AB, most improved?

For those of you who read the awards race on espn you all must have noticed one thing, for the most part, people in the race rarely change. One of the most stagnant races has been the MIP award with Harris at the forefront since day 1. But after looking at the numbers, is Harris really most improved, has he got that much better? In my opinion, there are more deserving players who have made huge strides in their development.

So here it is, the top 5 candidates for MIP. You may be surprised where I think people should rank.

5. Devin Harris
Thats right, as many people have already crowned him, I feel he is not the most deserving guy out there. Why? Let's take a deeper look into his improvement. After the trade last season, before even a training camp, Harris averaged 15.4, 3.3, 6.5, 1.4 and .3. This season he is averaging 21.5, 3.1, 6.4, 1.6, .2. 6 points more. Does 6 points more really warrant an end of season award? Especially on a team where they have almost nothing and he and Vince take almost every shot? AKA the John Salmons effect? To me, his growth is more the reflection of being on a team where he is the system rather than his own development as he has only improved in one category, scoring. I'm sure you could make the case that he's developed as a leader and captain as well, but who else is going to lead those scrubs.

4. Danny Granger
Again if the case for Harris is look at what a great scorer he's become, then Granger wins this battle with a 7 point increase from last season. In my opinion, his progress in scoring is even more impressive because Harris gets so many of his points in transition on the fast break while Granger is getting the bulk of his points in the half court set. Considering that he is not only their #1 option on offense and is also their primary perimeter defender, Granger has certainly shown his growth and development on both sides of the court. Sigh, why Joey?

3. David Lee
We all know Lee is perhaps one of the smartest rebounders in the league after he nearly led that category two seasons ago from the bench. One could of course argue that with Curry out indefinitely from Day 1 and with the shipping of Randolph to the Clippers, these numbers are expected of Lee, after all, who else is there? But to me, the fact that any team's primary big will always be handling Lee, the fact that New York has no other bigs, the fact that he is undersized at the PF position as it is and yet is scoring so effectively all bodes extremely well for Lee. On a team with no greatness, Lee is shining in the spotlight and is huge factor for New York's success this season. Shooting a blistering 57%, making the most of his free throws, and with his tenacity and hustle on the boards, it is very possible that come season end, Lee could be challenging for most double doubles, rebounds per game and this very award.

2. Andrea Bargnani
You heard me. I think AB ranks this high. Why? Well in the case of my #1 and #2 option, we really have to look at stats from a particular point and not the from the beginning of the season. Being on the bench early on in a lesser role is squandering the true value of their presence. Since he's been a consistent starter, he's come to consistently give more than we've asked for, averaging around 20 and 7 with a block a game. He's going to obviously have to sustain his performance till season end to get his numbers up to where he belongs but if he does so, he has a strong case for MIP. This is mainly because, he is one of the few candidates this year who shows progress in almost all areas of the game. Being avid Raptor viewers, we witnessed his penchant for taking himself almost immediately out of games with foul trouble last season and his improvement in this area alone could warrant this award. But after developing into one of our best defensive players, learning how to use his height, creating unique playing sets by pulling away bigs from the basket, and having a more diversified offense, Il Mago is rising in value daily and is proving many doubters, myself included, wrong. As he's average become more reflective of his current performances, Andrea will have a case much like Bobby Simmons and Boris Diaw a few years back, unprecedented improvement in all areas of the game and isn't this the requirement for Most Improved? His role in helping the Raps push for the playoffs may also have a huge impact on voters.

1. Paul Millsap
To me, even if Bargnani is able to get his averages to 20 and 7, this is Pauls award to lose. Again, as was the case with Andrea, we have to look at this numbers post Boozer. What makes him so remarkable is that he is in fact outplaying Boozer averaging 20+ and 12+. An added benefit is that boozer doesn't give much in the way of steals and blocks while Millsap is proving to be quite effective in that department as well. Like David Lee, playing undersized at the PF position but with a formidable bulk, perhaps we are seeing the new round mound. Bargnani shows progress all over, but Millsaps development is unprecedented, nearly doubling all his stats in only 10 more minutes. With an ever changing lineup due to injury, Millsap has been the one consistent force for Utah and has done it so well, that Boozer may have to find a new home. I agree with Van Gundy in that I think Boozer deserves to not only carry this award home, but be invited to be an all star this year and perhaps as an underpaid all star for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. Can't argue with you about Paul Millsap, this guy is making Boozer redundant.