TSP are taking a look at all the major season awards as we approach the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. Yesterday we gave our preview and best bet for the Rookie of the Year award and today we shift our focus to the NBA Most Improved Player award.
The Most Improved Player is always the most open award at the beginning of each NBA season. There are so many factors that go into it and unless you’ve got some inside knowledge of who’s been putting in the work, you’re pretty much having a stab in the dark. This season however, there are a few players that we feel are ready to take the next step and break out as stars in the league. So let’s take a look at this year’s contenders.
Zach LaVine: The first guy we’re taking a look at is Chicago Bulls high-flyer, Zach LaVine. 23-year-old LaVine is already entering his fifth year in the league and second year in Chicago after his initial three years in Minnesota. He’s a 2x Slam Dunk Contest Champion, highlighting his superb athleticism, but can also hit from deep range at a high percentage. After missing most of the 2017-18 season through injury, LaVine looks in terrific condition and has been dominant in pre-season. He’s a legitimate chance to break out and push for all-star selection in 2018-19.
Brandon Ingram: Former second overall pick in the 2016 draft Brandon Ingram has shown steady growth in his development. He was drafted more for his potential than for immediate impact, but at 21-years-of-age and entering his third season in the league, Ingram is ready to explode. He now has the best player of this generation in LeBron James as a mentor, who recently gave the young star high praise stating ‘he’s next’ eluding to Ingram being next player to dominate the league. We agree with the King and feel that BI is in for a big 2018-19 season.
Aaron Gordon: Another high-flyer makes our list of contenders with Aaron Gordon looking like a legitimate breakout candidate. Like the other guys on our list, Gordon has shown steady improvement and looks prime for a big breakout season. He’s consistently improved his shot to the point where he deserves respect from anywhere on the floor. If the Magic are to push for the playoffs this season, Gordon is the likely catalyst.
D’Angelo Russell: Our final contender for Most Improved is Brooklyn Nets point guard, D’Angelo Russell. He’s an exciting player to watch and is one of the deadliest players in the league when the game is on the line. At times, Russell has teased us with a stretch of terrific performances where it looks like he’s one of the premier point guards in the league, but his struggles with consistency is a worry. If he can put together a consistent season and average over 20 points a game in an improving Brooklyn Nets team, Russell may be the guy for the award.
The common theme in our list of contenders is athleticism and scoring ability, which are two things that you can’t teach (to an extent). These four players have those two attributes in abundance and will all be great players for many years to come. There can only be one Most Improved player however, and our best tip for this year’s award is Brandon Ingram. He’s got all the tools needed to become a superstar in the league and with King James in his corner we feel he will get the confidence to help take his game to the next level. Look for Ingram to average around 19-22 points per game this season and help carry the Lakers into playoff contention.
Brandon Ingram MIP +850 at BetAmerica
If it’s not Ingram, then we feel that Zach LaVine is your next best bet. He will be the leader scorer of a Bulls franchise that we expect to improve drastically this season, making him a popular pick for the award. He’s a threat on the inside and outside and will regularly make the top plays of the day. LaVine is a solid pick for MIP this season.