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2014 PBT Awards: Most Improved Player

Apr 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis Goran Dragic, Anthony Davis

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

Most Improved Player

1. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

3. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

I feel like I should just vote for the Phoenix Suns — Dragic is on top of this list but Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and others could be on this list. Dragic has earned the top spot with how he grew his game and played to the strengths of it, especially when Eric Bledsoe was out. Normally I hate to put second year (or third) year players on this list because dramatic jumps are expected, but Anthony Davis just could not be ignored with the level of leap he made. Chose Cousins over Kyle Lowry for the last slot.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

2. Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns

3. DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Very tough award considering there are so many variables at play. It typically doesn’t go to a star-level player like Blake Griffin or Kevin Love, even though it could be argued that both have elevated their games substantially. The Suns make it tough because they have the Morris twins, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and even Goran Dragic who all deserve consideration. Stephenson has a wild streak to his game for sure, but he’s become a triple-double threat capable of all kinds of consistent production, and despite the team’s recent struggles, Indiana ended up with the top seed in the East. Stephenson’s contributions all season long were a legitimate part of that.

Dan Feldman

1. Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets

2. Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns

3. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

Everyone discussing this award has noted how many Suns are contenders, but I have yet to see someone list every viable Phoenix player without overlooking someone. I’m going to try. Gerald Green, Goran Dragic, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Miles Plumee, P.J. Tucker. (Eric Bledsoe didn’t play enough. I didn’t forget about him.) It’s truly incredible how many highly improved players are on one team, but none of them take top billing. Terrence Jones went from a D-League player to a good starting power forward, an underrated one at that, on a top-five NBA team. A year ago, Plumlee didn’t look like he belonged in the league, but he passed his points (13) and rebounds (22) totals for all of last season in just his first two games this season (31 points and 28 rebounds), and he’s remained a solid starting center for the upstart Suns.  Anthony Davis took the step toward superstardom we all knew he would, just soon and more rapidly than anyone expected.

  1. davidly - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    Koyt: why’d y’ back off ‘o Patty Mills?
    That was, like, a week ago.

  2. alfiemonstaa - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    2nd year players shouldnt even be in consideration for this award due to the one & done deal most players go thru, not only that but theyre still learning the game in their second year & sum grasp it very quickly aka Anthony Davis. thats just my opinion.

    now, go on, hate on me!

    lol jk

    but seriously, they shouldnt be considered.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:59 AM

      Yea I agree. Everyone is expecting Anthony Davis to get better because they drafted him to be a franchise cornerstone. I think the award is meant to recognize someone who worked hard on their game to improve much more than anyone expected. I would give it Gerald Green. I think Dragic is good but he also has been great in recent seasons, he just has more minutes now than he used to.

  3. yomarianob - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    I would choose DeMar DeRozan, he is an all star now, and lead this Raptors to the postseason, getting home-court advantage for them since who knows when..

    Andre Drummond should get some votes too, he has improved a lot.. And he’s playing with Josh Smith, that has to be difficult.

    Finally, Gordon Hayward deserves some recognition, but I suppose he doesn’t qualify because he’s been improving since first NBA game..

  4. bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    At least we should all be able to agree on the Player Who Got The Most Worse Award which would go to OJ Mayo. Wait, Larry Sanders. Ahh damn.

    • shaner329 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

      Can’t forget about Josh Smith!

      • turkbox420 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:26 PM

        Paul George after All Star

  5. calkinsrob - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I cant believe gerald green isnt getting any respect on this page. this guy wasnt even in the league 1 or 2 years ago and now hes ballin! Anthony Davis r u serious? I agree 2nd year stars blooming shouldnt count towards this.

  6. unxpexted1 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Yea to me its gotta be Gerald Green. I’d throw Aaron Affalo in there as well

  7. timb12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Why shouldn’t 2nd year players count? If they’re the most improved, they’re the most improved. There are no secret requirements to this award, if Anthony Davis is the player that improved the most, he should get the award. It’s that simple.

    • bougin89 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      I agree. We shouldn’t just rule out 2nd year players. Taking your game to the next level after already being very good is the hardest jump. Davis made that jump and even though it wasn’t a total shock it wasn’t guaranteed either.

    • alfiemonstaa - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM


      he was chosen #1 overall for a reason.

      give the award to someone who wasnt taken serious and then made the jump. ex Lance stephenson, gerald green, aaron aflalo

      these dudes where average joes til this season!

      2nd and 3rd year players are still blossming.

      • alfiemonstaa - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        now hate



      • timb12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        It’s most improved. That’s it. You can’t add stipulations to the award. If a second year player is the most improved player, then he should win it. This isn’t the MVP where you can debate what valuable means. I’m not saying Anthony Davis should win it, but he shouldn’t be disqualified because it’s his second year. If he’s the most improved, he should win the award.

    • alfiemonstaa - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      dude they get drafted in the first place bc they are good enough, if they end up being a bust then they are lol look at lance he was suppose to be good (which he is) and he wasnt up until now. he was considered a fail, again gerald green was in the d league and worked his way into another contract, aflalo was just a role player and now hes proven he aint just that.

      these young and upcoming players are expected to grow

      thats just what i believe

      but what do i know im a regular joe lol

      • timb12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        I’m not saying someone else shouldn’t win it, I’d vote for Gerald Green. But it’s strictly most improved. Not most improved veteran, not most surprising improvement. Just most improved. The only people you should be able to disqualify from the running are rookies lol.

    • unxpexted1 - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      No different than any other NBA award. The MVP is not the most valuable player really, its the most valuable player on a winning team and least a 1 or 2 seed. that’s it. Manu Ginobli is being noticed for six man of the year even though Nick Young of all people has better numbers, but Manu is on a winning team. There are always stipulations and it’s kind of an unwritten rule that most improved player is more so a player that comes out of nowhere than it is a great player becoming better.

  8. john242322 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    This award should absolutely go Lance Stephenson no question. Such a drastic all-around improved player from last year to this year

  9. sportsfan18 - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    NOT a Suns fan… but come on… Miles Plumlee all the way.

    here is what he did going from yr 1 to yr 2

    3.9 min’s a game to 24.7 min’s a game

    played in 14 games to played in 79 games

    .238 field goal percentage to .518 field goal percentage

    0.9 points a game to 8.2 points a game

    1.6 rebounds per game to 7.9 rebounds per game (in under 25 min’s)

    I’m not a Plumlee fan either but THIS guy improved the most from last season to this season in the league…

    • biasedhomer - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      Not a Suns fan either, but it has to be Gerald Green. 6 years in the league, considered a journeyman, now he’s throwing dunks left and right, lighting it up.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 16, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Miles went from NOT being able to sniff the court to a league average player (PER just a tad below 15.0 which is the league average).

        Two seasons ago, Green’s PER was 15.8 and it was 16.5 this season.

        Two seasons ago, Green’s true shooting percentage was .548% and it was .547% this season.

        Two seasons ago, Green’s FG% was .481%, this season was it only .445%

        I don’t really see that Green has IMPROVED all that much. Many of his stats were less than two seasons ago.

        Heck, as a ROOKIE, Green’s FG% was .478% and this yr it was only .445%

        That’s not my definition of improvement…

        Don’t tell me he scored more as proof either as it was because he shot more… it took him MORE shots to get his points this season than it did two season’s ago…

        Now, Green DID improve but not by leaps and bounds like Miles did.

        Bulls fan here, not a fan of the Suns or of Plumlee but Miles improved his game more from where it was than Green has…

      • turkbox420 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:33 PM

        Sports fan- Gerald Green is playing a ton more minutes and getting 3 x as many shot attempts as 2 years ago. This is how he is eligible

  10. silverandblack22 - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    No Jodie Meeks?? Are you kidding me??

    He doubled his PPG by double! 7.9-15.7 PPG. Just because the Lakers had a bad season doesn’t mean you could just brush off. Dragic was already good before this season. So was Anthony Davis, as well as Cousins. Their jumps were expected. Meeks came out of nowhere, and was the one guy who brought it every night for LA.

    It’s highway robbery that Jodie Meeks did not make this list. Unbelievable.

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 19, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      To me Meeks is the case of a guy whose numbers jumped not because his game improved — he could always shoot — but because of how he was used. The Lakers gave him shots he wouldn’t get on another team because of the injuries, that is different than saying he improved his game. Meeks had a good year, just don’t think he improved as much as others.

  11. norcalkingsfan - Apr 16, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Demarcus Cousins. All damn day.

  12. xli2006 - Apr 16, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    Lance Stephenson led the league in Triple Doubles with 5 and was only 1 or 2 stats away from 7 Triple Doubles.

    He got hosed on the All Star nod and will probably get screwed again here.

  13. deetrain11 - Apr 17, 2014 at 10:18 PM


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