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

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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.