by: Matthew Blunk
Since 1985-86, the NBA has handed out the Most Improved Player Award after every season. It remains one of the more intriguing awards in all of sports, even if it could be argued it's somewhat of a backhanded compliment. Having said that, some notable past winners include Kevin Love (last season), Tracy McGrady (2000-01), Zach Randolph (2003-04), Monta Ellis (2006-07), Danny Granger (2008-09), and, of course, Gheorghe Mureșan (1995-96).
NBA season has been largely hebetudinous, or in layman's terms, the complete
opposite of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But hey, that's not
really fair now, is it? The NBA playoffs are still two weeks away, so let's
give basketball a chance! What do you say? ...What's that? Get on with this
list already? Very well. We start our journey in Los Angeles, CA...
Andrew Bynum, C - Los Angeles Lakers
18.6 PPG, 12.1 RPG, 2.0 BLKPG
Bynum has finally emerged as a go-to guy for the Lakers. He has developed better post moves, and looks comfortable taking a variety of shots on the low block. His numbers are up all around, and he made his first All-Star team this season to boot. Bynum also remains a terror defensively when he maintains his focus and desire (and occasionally listens in on Mike Brown huddles). He has become the second-best center in the Association in 2012.
Ryan Anderson, F - Orlando Magic
15.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 39% 3P
This sharpshooting forward has become a solid no. 2 option for a playoff-bound Magic squad. He is rebounding better, and shooting more efficiently. Anderson is the perfect starting four for Stan Van Gundy's team. He has the range and versatility as a big that made Orlando extremely difficult to defend back in their 2009 Finals run. He is playing the Rashard Lewis role perfectly, perhaps even making it his own.
Greg Monroe, F - Detroit Pistons
15.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 74% FT
Monroe is rapidly becoming a force in the NBA. He has had to man the center position for a talent-depleted Pistons team this season, and he has performed remarkably well. He makes an effort on both sides of the ball and makes an impact in nearly every statistical category. Monroe could wind up being one of the best forwards in the game in the next couple of years.
Marcin Gortat, C - Phoenix Suns
15.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.5 BLKPG
Ah, life with Steve Nash as your point guard. Gortat has never played alongside a playmaker like Nash (then again, not many have), and it has showed. Gortat is going to post career highs in points and rebounds. He's averaging a near double-double, just a hair below 16/10. His solid basketball IQ meshes wonderfully with Nash, made evident through their near-automatic pick-and-roll attack. Another couple of seasons and maybe he'll get a shiny new $100 million contract, too.
Marc Gasol, C - Memphis Grizzlies
15.0 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.9 BLKPG
Gasol developed into a real starting NBA center last season, but entered the outskirts of the elite class this season. A nifty passer and hulking rebounder, the younger Gasol is what you'd call a "throwback" big man. He doesn't camp out at the three-point line waiting for kickouts like some of his vexing contemporaries. He has decent touch in the midrange, but Gasol will pound the ball inside and beat opponents up. Let's just hope he'll be healthy and ready for the playoffs, what with the Grizzlies losing to the New Orleans Hornets after he hyperextended his knee and left the game. Pau's kid brother has become perhaps the most important player on his team.
Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury and surgery on his meniscus wasn’t necessarily a shock considering what we know about ACL recoveries — but most reaction was generally pretty dramatic, and “shocked” is a word that could describe it. For the first time in a while, basically every journalist, fan and commentator forgot about their fantasy teams or click-grabbing #HotSportsTakes and simply felt bad for the talent that any true basketball fan loves watching fly around the court like the ethereal phenomenon that Rose is.
It is quite the paradox indeed that a professional sports best ever player could, in fact, be its worst administrator. However that appears to be the case when it comes to Michael Jordan. Viewed by many as the greatest player to wear a pair of Nike’s or any other type shoe for that matter, it is quickly becoming the opinion of those same individuals that he is a terrible boss.
By R. Hoyal
When D. J. Stephens jumps, the record books ask how high. From his humble beginning in Killeen, Texas, D.J. has grown to a rising star in basketball. At his recent workout with the Brooklyn Nets, this 6’5” small forward leapt to the amazing height of 46-inches during his vertical jump. …