Tag: Most Improved Player

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It’s official, Kevin Love is NBA’s Most Improved Player


We told you this was coming, but it is now official, Minnesota’s Kevin Love is the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

We also told you we were down with that — Love improved his shooting percentage from all over the court, his rebounding percentage and the consistency of his effort. Coach Kurt Rambis (who was not at the ceremony) had Love as a sixth man at the end of last season and seemed uncomfortable giving him big minutes this season, but in the end he had no choice. Love was too good to sit.

In his remarks accepting the award Thursday, Love made the point that he really won the award in the summer. That is when he went on an intense conditioning program and worked on aspects of his game. Then he became part of Team USA, which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships. He credited all of that work with getting him on the podium

Which is to say, whoever next year’s Most Improved Player will be, they are in the gym while you read this. The MIP award is won in the offseason.

Love won the vote handily with 400 points and 66 first place votes from the 116 sports writers who participated. Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge was second (157 points, 11 first-place votes) and Golden State’s Dorell Wright (124 points, 16 first-place votes) was third.

Derrick Rose was fourth. My guess is he’s going to get over that when he wins another award in a couple weeks.

Report: Kevin Love to win Most Improved Player award

Kevin Love

It’s not a surprise, and it’s about to become official on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press, on Thursday Minnesota’s Kevin Love will be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

Love averaged an impressive 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game this season. He went from being a sixth man for large stretches of last season to a guy the Wolves need to build around.

What makes me most happy is that he actually improved — often this award goes to a guy who just does what he does but do to circumstance gets a bump in minutes (inflating his numbers). And Love did play 7 more minutes a game this season.

But his shooting percentage jumped 20 points to 47 percent overall and he got to the line more often too, jumping his True Shooting Percentage (which includes all points scored) to 59.3 percent.

Then there is the rebounding — he grabbed 23.6 percent of the available rebounds when he was on the floor (third in the league), and 34.2 percent of the defensive rebounds.

That fueled the double-double streak that got him noticed.

What was amazing was early in the season when Kurt Rambis did not recognize what he had and benched Love for long stretches and key moments. He kept being frustrated with Love for what he is not (and he is not a great defender by anyone’s definition). But what he does he does very, very well. He rebounds, he can outlet the ball, and the man is a big who can score inside and also shot 41 percent from three this season. He is one of the most fundamentally sound big men in the game.

This is a good fit. And while at times in the past this award has been the kiss of death (Aaron Brooks, Bobby Simmons) it will not be in this case. You just have that feeling he is only getting better.

Winderman: Playoffs should count toward post-season awards

Memphis Grizzlies v Chicago Bulls

Every year the process feels dirty, for some reason this season more so than others.

Why, exactly, do NBA award ballots have to be in to the league office by Thursday?

Why can’t the playoffs count, especially since many consider those the only games that matter, anyway?

This isn’t baseball, when you play a six-month regular season and a one-month postseason. This is a sport where the postseason lasts two months, roughly a quarter of the overall process.

Yes, we appreciate that the postseason is exclusionary, not everyone makes it.

But most do, 16 of 30 teams. (Also known as the only teams we care about, anyway.)

More to the point, virtually every voter factors in winning, with most making it a primary component. The most meaningful winning comes now.

Granted, it would be unfair with some ballots. So keep an end-of-the-regular-season deadline for Rookie of the Year, since leading candidates are drafted by dreadful teams. (But wouldn’t the view on Landry Fields or Gary Neal change with a solid postseason?)

David Stern’s response to this has been that the NBA already has an award for the postseason, namely MVP of the Finals. But that is just for one series, not for all four rounds.

And while it would delay the ceremonies, remove those lavish pregame presentations during the playoffs, Major League Baseball has done just fine doling out its hardware as late as Thanksgiving. And the NHL captures Canada’s collective attention with their postseason awards gala.

Heck, July announcements this offseason would take some of the gloom off the lockout.

If Derrick Rose goes out in the second round to Orlando and LeBron and Kobe and Dwight play on, will this season truly be remembered for Rose’s breakout?

If Chris Paul stirs up playoff magic, will there be second-guessing over the All-NBA first team?

Thursday is too early of a deadline. And this is not like those mayoral recalls sweeping the nation. No second chances here to make things right.

This is one and done. Even if the process gets done too early.

In the NBA, true MVPs aren’t the ones at the top of ballots in mid April.

They’re the ones standing in mid June.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Kardashian Effect could make Kris Humphries most improved player


Kris Humphries is having a breakout season with the Nets.

He shot 44.1 percent last season and never higher than 47 percent until this season when he shot 52.7 percent. The reason is he took fewer jumpers and started taking more shots at the rim (1.3 more per game) and he finished them much better (67.1 percent this season to 55.8 percent last season). His percentage of rebounds grabbed jumped from 18 percent to 22 percent. He went from being an average player using PER to a solid starter at 17.95. (Stats via Hoopdata.)

Joke all you want about how that is because he is dating Kim Kardashian — the supposed “ Kardashian Effect” — but he told CBS New York there is something to that (via The Basketball Jones).

“You know, it’s interesting. Just being around her, seeing how hard she works, and everyone in her family and what they do, it’s motivating for me,” Humphries said. “I want to be the best that I can be. I wouldn’t say it’s the only reason I’ve had a great year, but it definitely factors into that.”

When you think about Lamar Odom about to win the Sixth Man of the Year award after marrying Khloe Kardashian, maybe there is something to this effect. Frightening as that is to the rational mind.

Now the Nets want to ride the Kardashian Effect to a most improved player award. Not sure he’s going to win it, but since this award often goes to players who didn’t really improve as opposed to just got more minutes and kept up the level of production they had before, there could be worse choices.

The Nets released a video — Kris Humphries as “The Incredible Hump” — to sell you on what he can do. You can thank me later for getting The Humpty Hump stuck in your head all day.

Pacers Jim O’Brien doesn’t think Roy Hibbert is having a good season

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns
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The best coaches know how to pick their spots. When to praise, when to criticize, when to ride the hot hand of guys off the bench and when to get the starters back in to keep a run going.

Honestly, the last couple days I have no idea what Indiana’s Jim O’Brien is thinking. None.

Let’s start with Roy Hibbert, the third-year center who would probably win Most Improved Player if the vote were taken today. Hibbert’s offensive efficiency has gone up while he has taken on more of the load, he is giving the Pacers almost three more points and rebounds a game than he did last season, and his defense in the paint is the reason the Pacers are anywhere near .500.

So O’Brien, what did you think of his performance so far this season, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com asks?

“I think that Roy would say – and I certainly share this belief – I don’t think he’s having a very good season,” O’Brien said to a surprised cluster of reporters before the Pacers’ game against the Bulls at United Center. “I think that he can play at a much, much higher level right away than he’s doing right now.”

I get it, tough love and all. Push him because he can be even better. But that can be done with rewards thrown in. “He has really stepped up his game this season and established himself as one of the building blocks here in Indiana, but I know what he is now just scratches the surface of what he can be.” You know, something like that. Acknowledge the steps taken before bringing out the cattle prod.

Then in the game Monday night, the Pacers were in a close one with the Bulls and the subs did a good job. Starter Brandon Rush along with James Posey, T.J. Ford, Solomon Jones and Dahntay Jones made a little 5-0 run to start the fourth and it looked like this one was going to go down to the wire.

But then midway through the fourth Tom Thibodeau brought back his key starters — Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer. O’Brien brought back Roy Hibbert for 2:51 then took him out again. He subbed Mike Dunleavy in for Dahntay Jones. And that was it. No Darren Collison or Josh McRoberts. You know how Collison feels about this.

The Bulls closed the game on a 19-4 run over the final six minutes. During that run the Pacers made no changes. The Pacers lost by 19.

Pick your spots. Pick your spots.