Ryan Anderson

Magic’s Ryan Anderson named NBA’s Most Improved Player


UPDATE 1:40 pm: It’s official, Ryan Anderson is your NBA’s Most Improved Player.

As I said below, Anderson deserves some kudos for continuing good production this season as his minutes jumped from bench guy to starter. Not everyone can do that. Whether or not you think that should make him MIP depends on how you choose to define the most murky of NBA awards.

Here are the top five vote getters:

Ryan Anderson, Orlando (260 points)
Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee (159)
Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota (104)
Greg Monroe, Detroit (96)
Andrew Bynumn, Los Angeles Lakers (96)

As a sign of how screwed up the criteria for this award are, Tony Parker got a vote.

9:58 am: The Orlando Magic have called a press conference for 1:30 p.m. Friday for a “major announcement.” And we know they haven’t suddenly traded Dwight Howard.

At this time of the year it means someone will win an award — Ryan Anderson will be named the league’s Most Improved Player. Orlando Sentinel columnist Brian Schmitz has confirmed it. Anderson can start clearing off space on the mantle, or trophy case, or wherever he wants to put it.

Anderson fits the mold of players who often win this award — he didn’t so much improve as maintain his level of play as his minutes jumped from backup to starter levels. Last season he shot 43 percent, this season 43.9 percent. Last season and this season he shot 39.3 percent from three. His rebounding rate (percentage of rebounds grabbed while on the floor) and usage rate (percentage of offense he used while on floor) remained close to previous levels.

What changed is he went from playing 22 minutes a game coming off the bench to 32 minutes a game as a starter. So he went from scoring 10.6 to 16.1 points per game.

A lot of players see their efficiency drop when that happens, Anderson deserves a lot of credit for not letting this happen. Anderson is an often underrated, quality player. He is the league’s best stretch four (unless you count Dirk Nowitzki as one) and Stan Van Gundy used him very well. He knows his game and plays within himself, makes smart decisions and would fit on just about any team.

Anderson is a deserving winner of the award. I’m not a huge fan of the award in general because I think there needs to be some criteria for what we are looking for, but as it is Anderson deserves recognition. A lot of guys struggle when given a bigger role on a good team (which the Magic were until the Howard debacle) and he stepped up.

Stephen Curry gives high five while his shot is in air (video)

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Stephen Curry said the defending-champion Warriors would have no problem picking up where they left off.

His swagger certainly remains intact.

Knicks associate head coach: Porzingis might be combination of Gasol, Nowitzki

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Knicks president Phil Jackson compared New York’s No. 4 overall pick, Kristaps Porzingis, to Shawn Bradley.

Porzingis resisted that comparison, but he might appreciate these ones – to Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki – a little more.

Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Perhaps the most successful European big men in recent times are Gasol, whom Rambis coached, and Nowitzki.

“He might be a combination of both of them,’’ Rambis said. ‘He can do so many things. You guys haven’t seen it yet. And some of it won’t come out for three, four, five years either. He’s got to grow up, mature, develop, get stronger and [get] used to the NBA game. He already understands basketball and knows what to do, and he’s an unselfish player. He makes really good decisions. It wasn’t like he was a blank slate coming here.’’

Aside from his intensive work ethic, Porzingis also has an unprecedented gift.

“He’s got 3-point range — like effortless 3-point range, too,’’ Rambis said. “It’s not even hard for him to shoot for distance.’’

I like Porzingis and think he has a bright NBA future, but is piling this level of praise on him really a good idea? Rambis adds the caveats that it could take years for Porzingis’ talent to translate, but this still sets up an incredibly high ceiling for Porzingis to reach.

Jackson and Knicks coach Derek Fisher had done a good job of keeping expectations in line, praising Porzingis’ work ethic and modest progress. Jackson might have gone too far with the Bradley comparison, but at least he limited the hype.

Rambis needs to show more perspective. Many rookies flash amazing potential before their first game. Far fewer become Hall of Famers. Ditto rookies who drill 3-pointers in practice relative to those who do it in games.

I still think Porzingis will be fine, and maybe in New York, an overhyping is inevitable. I’m just not sure Rambis is doing Porzingis any favors by contributing to it.