I firmly believe the NBA’s Most Improved is somewhat of a backhanded comment. In short, you must have a poor or simply decent year the previous season and exceed all expectations the following year. Still, this season there have been a number of worthy candidates.
Jrue Holiday went from being a non-descript point guard from UCLA to an All Star in the span of a few months. He had to take on a larger role with the injuries to Andrew Bynum and did not disappoint. Similarly, in the wake of an egregiously bad rookie season for Austin Rivers, Greivis Vasquez took control of the
Hornets Pelicans and led the entire NBA in assists.
Formerly just a throw-in in the Dwight Howard trade, Nikola Vucevic came to Orlando with low post ability and a large allotment of court minutes. He turned in some truly impressive rebounding efforts along the way and it allowed him to finish in the top 5 of MIP voting. Similarly, much was written about Larry Sanders’ ascent on the blogosphere, turning into dominant defensive presence to the surprise of most. He finished the season in both total blocks and blocks per game.
However, Paul George, the winner of the 2013 MIP Award, has his team in the playoffs. Night in and night out, he plays tough, physical defense and takes on the role of point forward on offense. Despite losing Danny Granger for the entire season, George has become a complete contributor in all areas.
The Hawks have had only a few notable improvements from last season because just 5 players remains from last season’s team. Al Horford, however, has stood out from the pack. He has turned into the key cog of the offense in the absence of Joe Johnson. He upped his per game averages to over 17 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. It has certainly been incredible to watch, especially since Horford was pretty darn before the improvement. Hawks fans have to be overjoyed to have this piece to build around this offseason.