2019 PBT Awards: Most Improved Player

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Kurt Helin

1. Pascal Siakam, Raptors

2. De'Aaron Fox, Kings

3. D'Angelo Russell, Nets

There were a few other players who could have made the list, but Siakam is the clear winner — no other player improved his game as much by broadening his skills and doing so while being asked to take on a much larger role with the team.

Dan Feldman

1. De’Aaron Fox, Kings

2. Pascal Siakam, Raptors

3. D’Angelo Russell, Nets

De’Aaron Fox was awful last season. Last year’s No. 5 pick, he was in so far over his head as a starting point guard. His box plus-minus was -4.4.

The other top-five picks with a rookie-year box plus-minus that poor in the previous 20 years: Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter, Alex Len, Thomas Robinson, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Adam Morrison, Darko Milicic, Drew Gooden, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Eddy Curry, Marcus Fizer, Jonathan Bender, Michael Olowokandi. Though there are a couple exceptions – see Porter – most of that list had miserable careers.

Don’t assume Fox’s rise was inevitable. It wasn’t. He earned this award.

Siakam improved his skills tremendously, but he was already a solid player last season. D’Angelo Russell narrowly took the third spot over Thomas Bryant, Malik Beasley, Nikola Vucevic, Jusuf Nurkic, Domantas Sabonis and Monte Morris.

Dane Delgado

1. Pascal Siakam, Raptors

2. De’Aaron Fox, Kings

3. D’Angelo Russell, Nets

Siakam has been the linchpin for the Toronto Raptors all season, particularly as Kawhi Leonard has sat out a huge number of games. The fact that the Raptors could do without Leonard is based in large part on the rise of Siakam as a complete player. I think Toronto fans secretly wonder if Siakam will be able to fill the void if Leonard decides to leave in free agency this summer. Fox and Russell get mentions here too. Russell is taking and making a lot of difficult shots, but we still need to see if his poor shot selection means he’s a shot maker or if he’s just on a bit of a streak. Fox looks like the real deal and a franchise cornerstone for the Kings to build on from years to come.