With only a week left in the NBA season, now begins the time of looking back on the past 6 months and honouring players who have made an impact this season.
To kick off the award season, I wanted to identify the players, who I believe, have made the most improvement this season.
Here is my “All NBA Most Improved Team” for the 2013-2014 season.
PG – Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns)
2012-2013 Stats: 14.7 PPG / 7.4 APG / 3.1 RPG / .443 FG% / 17.5 PER
2013-2014 Stats 20.5 PPG / 5.9 APG / 3.2 RPG / .508 FG% / 21.7 PER
If you asked him today, who do you think Daryl Morey would rather have; Jeremy Lin or Goran Dragic? The Rockets GM let Dragic walk after the 2011-2012 season, allowing the former Rockets guard to sign with Phoenix for four years, and $30 million, with a player option for a fifth year at $7.5 million.
After only averaging 14.7 points per game in his first year of his deal, Dragic has exploded onto the scene this year, leading the Phoenix Suns in the race for the final playoff spot out West. The Dragon has arguably been the reason why the Phoenix Suns are still alive, as he was able to keep the Suns afloat when Eric Bledsoe went down with an injury early in the season.
According to espn.com, Dragic is currently ranked fourth in PER amongst qualified point guards only trailing Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry. Dragic also ranks in the top 20 for points (20.5) and assists (5.9) of all qualified NBA players.
Honourable Mention: Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
SG – Demar Derozan (Toronto Raptors)
2012-2013 Stats: 18.1 PPG / 2.5 APG / 3.9 RPG / .445 FG% / 14.7 PER
2013-2014 Stats 22.8 PPG / 4.0 APG / 4.4 RPG / .431 FG% / 18.4 PER
I think we may need to give Bryan Colangelo a little bit of credit. Initially, when Colangelo signed Demar Derozan for four years, at $38 million, there were a lot of folks scratching their heads. Many felt the former Raptors general manager jumped the gun on extending Derozan, however, since that signing; Derozan has now blossomed this season into an all-star shooting guard for Toronto.
Derozan is currently second amongst shooting guards in scoring, and ranks ninth overall this season amongst all NBA players. One key reason that Demar’s scoring is on the rise is the fact that he is now getting to the free throw line. Compared to last season, basketball-reference.com shows that Derozan has made 130 more free throws this year, to go along with 164 more attempts.
A lot of credit has been given to Kyle Lowry for his play this season, but Derozan’s development is the main reason the Raptors will likely have home court advantage in the playoffs.
Honourable Mention: Lance Stephenson (Indiana Pacers)
SF – Gerald Green (Phoenix Suns)
2012-2013 Stats: 7.0 PPG / 0.8 APG / 2.4 RPG / .366 FG% / 9.9 PER
2013-2014 Stats 15.8 PPG / 1.5 APG / 3.4 RPG / .445 FG% / 16.4 PER
If there was an award for best career turnaround, Gerald Green would get my vote. Drafted 9th overall in 2006, Green was out of the league by 2009 having played on four different NBA teams. The former lottery pick spent two years in Russia, before getting a second chance with the New Jersey Nets in 2011. After a year in Indiana, Green was traded to Phoenix as part of the deal to bring Luis Scola to the Pacers.
Out of the 77 games played this season, Green has scored 20 points or more in 23 of those games; including five games where he has scored 30 points or higher. Green’s performance this season has helped raise his points per game average almost eight points from a season ago. The former dunk champion has always been identified as a player who can finish at the rim, but this season has shown he is now able to score from behind the arc. According to basketball-reference.com, Green is shooting .398% from three, which is currently 27% higher than his career mark.
Honourable Mention: Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns)
PF/C – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets)
2012-2013 Stats: 13.5 PPG / 8.2 RPG / 1.8 BPG / .516 FG% / 21.7 PER
2013-2014 Stats 20.8 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 2.8 BPG / .519 FG% / 26.6 PER
This season, Anthony Davis has propelled himself into the conversation as one of the Top five players in the NBA. Pretty much every stat category is up this season and Davis is currently ranked in the top 20 for scoring, rebounds, double doubles and is first in blocked shots.
The highlight of his season was on March 16, 2014, when the former first overall pick put up 40 points and 21 rebounds against the Boston Celtics. Although this has been a down year for the Pelicans, one can’t argue the progress Davis has made.
Honourable Mention: Blake Griffin (LA Clippers)
PF/C – DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
2012-2013 Stats: 17.1 PPG / 9.9 RPG / 0.7 BPG / .465 FG% / 20.2 PER
2013-2014 Stats 22.3 PPG / 11.6 RPG / 1.3 BPG / .497 FG% / 26.2 PER
It seems that there are three guarantees in life; death, taxes and DeMarcus Cousins scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per game. In the 68 games this season, Cousins has recorded a double-double 50 times, which ranks him third in the NBA according to espn.com. When compared to other centers this season, Cousins ranks first in scoring, first in player efficiency and fifth in rebounds.
At the age of 23, Cousins already has proven that he has the ability to be a perennial all-star in the NBA and I believe, that if ever he is able to control his emotions and develop a high level of maturity, Cousins could be a future hall of famer.
Honourable Mention: Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
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