The NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year award is given to the player who has shown the most improvement during the regular season. The winner is picked by a panel of sportswriters.
Since its inception, a total of 31 players have been the recipient of the award and no player has won the award twice. Boris Diaw, Kevin Love, and Pascal Siakam are the only winners of the award to also win an NBA title and Siakam is the only player to win the two in the same year. Siakam joins six other players who were born outside the United States who won the award.
Siakam is once again in the conversation to win the award this year after taking over as the Toronto Raptors’ top scorer after Kawhi Leonard left for the Los Angeles Clippers. However, Siakam is at the bottom of the current odds board at +10000 as many other players are equally deserving to win the award this year.
Here are the odds to win the 2020 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award:
Bam Adebayo was one of the driving forces behind the Miami Heat this season. The former 14th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Heat had his best season ever in 2019-20. After playing all 82 games and averaging 8.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game during the 2018-19 season, Adebayo broke out this season with the departure of Hassan Whiteside. Adebayo played all of Miami’s 65 games this season and averaged career-highs with 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. He also put up 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game and seems to be getting better by the game. Adebayo was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team this year and won the Skills Challenge at the 2020 All-Star weekend.
Like Bam Adebayo, Brandon Ingram also had a breakout season in 2019-20. The former 2nd overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers as part of the trade package that saw Anthony Davis transfer to the Lakers during the offseason. Ingram was always a potential but he never blossomed in Los Angeles especially since LeBron James arrived there. Ingram benefited from the injury to Zion Williamson as he emerged as the Pelicans’ leading scorer while Williamson was still healing up. Ingram averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game while playing in a total of 56 regular-season games.
It may be unfair to put Luka Doncic on this list because he should be in the mix for NBA MVP even if that race is expected to be between Giannis and LeBron. The 3rd pick of the 2018 NBA Draft was named as the NBA’s 2019 Rookie of the Year after mesmerizing the NBA with a beyond-his-years brilliance. But after averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game last season, Doncic has taken his game to the next level this year. He ranked in the Top 10 in scoring and passing and put up 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game this season. He joins Oscar Robertson, James Harden, Michael Jordan, and Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to average 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Jayson Tatum also earned his first All-Star nod this season. The former 3rd overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft of the Boston Celtics had a very impressive rookie season but had his share of struggles during his second year. But this season, Tatum has emerged as the top player for the Boston Celtics with Kyrie Irving going to Brooklyn. Tatum averaged 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. He had an impressive February where he put up 30.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while playing like an All-Defensive first-team candidate. He helped the Celtics to third place in the East.
Devonte Graham deserves to be on this list because he rose from obscurity to become the leading scorer of the Charlotte Hornets during the 2019-20 NBA season. Graham was the Atlanta Hawks’ 34th overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft but was traded to the Hornets. He spent the 2018-19 season playing for the Hornets and their affiliate Greensboro Swarm. But the former Kansas star went from fringe piece to centerpiece overnight. He averaged 18.2 points and 7.5 assists per game while transforming to a high-volume three-point shooter. He shot 37.3% from behind the arc and ranked fifth in the league in both pull-up three-pointers and total three-pointers made. Graham also produced more points per pick and roll possessions than the likes of D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Ja Morant, and Jimmy Butler.
Improvement can take many forms and when you look at the list of players on the odds board, each of the five names we discussed has a rightful claim as the most improved player in 2020. When it comes to statistics, Luka Doncic’s transformation from Rookie of the Year to MVP candidate is worth noting. Doncic has established himself as one of the best players in the league and it’s impressive.
If you talk about having a breakout year, you have to go with Bam Adebayo, Brandon Ingram, and Jayson Tatum. These three players became All-Stars for the first time this season and all of the players a big part of their team’s success. But between these three, I would go for Adebayo who has been a surprise with his all-around skills. Ingram and Tatum were expected to be stars given their collegiate backgrounds. Adebayo wasn’t as highly touted as both but he’s turned out to be a gem for the Miami Heat.
My pick would be Bam Adebayo here because I think among the Top 5 on the odds board, he’s the one who’s showed better overall improvement. Adebayo’s stats across the board have been impressive and his ability to do it all on the court has surprised me. Luka Doncic has good value at +550 but given he was already a star and is expected to be a superstar may work against him.
Prediction: Bam Adebayo
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