The Most Improved Player Award rewards optimism (and hard work). At the heart of it is a core belief that a career isn’t always stuck where it was left. It is possible to climb up the hill and go from average to good and from good to great. The Most Improved Player Award has been sitting on player(s) mantel or in their home office since 1986 when it was first handed out to defensive guard Alvin Robertson. Some of the most notable players to take the trophy home have been Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, Zach Randolph, Monta Ellis, Kevin Love, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, C.J. McCollum. This year, the group is incredibly diverse and none were born in the United States. Greece, France and Serbia are represented.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a monster break out year with an All-Star bid and the playoffs. Rudy Gobert dominated at the rim and showed he had soft hands and a nice touch with the ball. Nikola Jokic is the modern big with a lot of versatility, scorer, playmaker, rebounder. The winner will pick up the award once the NBA Finals has completed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks): A first time All-Star. The best player on his team, guided his team into the playoffs without Jabari Parker and with second round pick rookie point guard Malcom Brogdon.
- 2016-17 Improvements: Points (+6.0). Field Goal Attempts (+3.0). Field Goals Made (+1.8) Free Throw Attempts (+2.6). Free Throws Made (+2.2) . Assists (+1.1). Offensive Rating (+7.0). Defensive Rating (+2.0). PER (+7.3). Plus/Minus (+3.5)
- Top 20: Field Goal Percentage (18th), Rebounds (16th), Steals (11th), Blocks (6th), Real Plus-Minus (18th), Defensive Real Plus-Minus (54th.) PER (10th)
- 1 game of 41 points, 18 games of 30+ points, 2 games of 15-rebounds, 3 games with 5+ blocks, 2 games with 5+ steals, 32 double-doubles, 3 triple-doubles.
Rudy Gobert (Jazz): Dominated the paint for Utah and is one of the reasons the Jazz were in the playoffs. Gobert isn’t just a defensive juggernaut, he added offense to his game.
- 2016-17 Improvement: Points (+4.9). Field Goal Attempts (+1.9). Field Goals Made (+ 1.9). Free Throw Attempts (+1.3). Free Throws (+1.2) Defensive Rebounds (+1.4). Total Rebounds (+1.8). Offensive Rating (+17.0). PER (+5.8). Plus/Minus (+3.8)
- Top 20: Field Goal Percentage (2nd), Rebounds (4th), Blocks (1st), Real Plus-Minus (8th), Defensive Real-Plus Minus (1st), PER (20th).
- 1 game of 35 points, 1 game of 25 rebounds, 1 game of 23 rebounds, 4 games of 17 rebounds, 8 games with 5+ blocks, 58 double-doubles
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets). The best player on his team, a big who can space the floor, drain a three, rebound, drive to the rim and dunk. He is a great big man passer and playmaker. He is the franchise player the Nuggets have been looking for since Carmelo fled.
- 2016-17 Improvements: Points (+6.7). Field Goal Attempts (+4.2). Field Goals Made (+3.0). Defensive Rebounds (+2.2). Total Rebounds (+2.8). Assists (+2.5) Offensive Rating (+8.0). Defensive Rating (+5.0). PER (+4.9). Plus/Minus (3.5)
- Top 20: Field Goal Percentage (6th). Rebounds (13th). Real Plus-Minus (4th). Defensive Real-Plus Minus (34th). PER (8th)
- 5 games with 30+ points, 1 game of 21-rebounds, 2 games of 17-rebounds, 1 game with 5+ blocks. 39 double-doubles. 6 Triple-Doubles