NBA Most Improved: Five Players Quietly Showing Out

NBA most improved

Looking past the obvious NBA most improved players, such as Julius Randle becoming an All-Star and Jerami Grant proving to be a potential star, there are quite a few players quietly becoming better and better. They won’t get all the recognition come NBA award season, but they’re on track to establishing strong careers.

NBA Most Improved: Five Players Quietly Showing Out

Eastern Conference

Three players emerging as possible stars in the Eastern Conference are Chris Boucher and Gary Trent of the Toronto Raptors and De’Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks.

Boucher used to dominate the G-League, and it was always clear he was an NBA-level talent. He’s now taking full advantage of Serge Ibaka leaving Toronto. This season Boucher is averaging 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Last season he averaged roughly 7 points, 4 rebounds, and a block per game. Boucher is leading the charge as a defensive stud for Toronto, and their future at center. He can score and defend in the paint, has crazy length, and even spreads the floor. Last night was a perfect example of how great he can be, as Boucher scored 38 points (made three three’s) and grabbed 19 boards in 36 minutes.

Trent, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers, is another up-and-coming star in Toronto. He was fantastic in the bubble last season and is carrying on his strong play this year. This season he’s averaging 15 points per game on 39 percent shooting from deep. Pair that up with his defense, and Trent is an ideal “three-and-d” player. With restricted free agency looming, Trent is in line for a major payday.

Hunter was always supposed to be good, drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 Draft. After rookie year growing pains, he’s established himself as a core player of the Hawks and someone untouchable in trade negotiations. This season he’s averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal per game. His shooting splits continue to improve as well at 50-36-87. Hunter will be dropping 20+ points per game while playing elite defense in no time.

Established studs who continue to improve are Zach LaVine and Jaylen Brown.

Western Conference

Two young players blossoming before their team’s very eyes in the Western Conference are Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns and Richaun Holmes of the Sacramento Kings.

Bridges often gets overlooked on the same team as Chris PaulDevin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, but he’s one of the most crucial pieces of the Suns’ success this season. He’s the ideal three-and-d player, averaging
13 points, 5 rebounds, and a steal per game on 41 percent shooting from deep. If Bridges was on a less-loaded team, he’d be on par or better than Hunter on the Hawks. He can guard any team’s top scorer on any given night while also contributing on offense. Bridges will be a household name in no time.

Holmes, like many Kings players of the past and present, gets overlooked due to the team’s quality. Don’t get it twisted though – Holmes is one of the most well-rounded frontcourt players in the Western Conference and will definitely cash in this offseason. He’s averaging 14.2 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game this season. He’s also stepping up in place of draft bust Marvin Bagley. The high-flying dunker and shot-blocker is keeping the Kings alive on defense and is on track to star for a playoff team come next season.

Established studs who continue to improve are De’Aaron Fox and Christian Wood.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images

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