Question 10 of the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable series has our T.I. writers considering Most Improved candidates.
The Thunderous Intentions writing team reaches the 10th question of our 30 for 30 roundtable series with consideration for the Most Improved Player candidates. Top of mind is whether OKC Thunder cornerstone Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be in the mix.
The youngster was projected to have a high ceiling but he’s already surpassed expectations in year one with the Thunder.
That said, this award unlike most of the individual awards has numerous players who’ve delivered seasons worthy of consideration.
With that, I give you question ten from the series…
Q10: Should Shai Gilgeous-Alexander be in the mix to win Most Improved Player? And, who are your top candidates?
I really do not like the idea of second-year players being in the most improved race in general, their leap is pretty much a given, however, this is a rare year that we have seen second-year players not only improve but astronomically outperform their projections.
I think this award will go to Luka Doncic, as he turns into a darkhorse MVP candidate by December of his second season, that leap is jaw-dropping.
The third slot has to come down to Devonte Graham or Brandon Ingram, but I have to give the nod to Graham. Admittedly I am biased, but the fact Graham has turned himself into a solid starter in the NBA in just his second season after being viewed as a second-round project is impressive. For Ingram, he has had a great year and has finally unlocked his potential.
Yes, I absolutely think Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be in the mix to win Most Improved. In fact, I’ll add Dennis Schroder in there too. SGA has shown nothing but poise and finesse in his first year with OKC. In his maiden experience being a starter in the NBA, he has taken everything in his stride and become a greater player.
My top three Most Improved candidates are Gilgeous-Alexander, Jayson Tatum and Brandon Ingram. Tatum and Ingram have both had breakout seasons which saw them be named All-Stars for the first time.
The trio all have a significant impact on their respective teams’ and have worked to refine their game.
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I don’t believe that SGA will be the NBA MIP, but I do think he will be in the top 3. This season, Gilgeous-Alexander went from exciting rookie to a future franchise leader in Oklahoma City who will be loved in the 405 for years to come. This leads me to give you two more names that might be picked over SGA. The first two that come to mind are Bam Adebayo and Luka Doncic.
Bam Adebayo has stepped up for a rejuvenated Miami Heat roster and has the Heat moving toward a surprising Home Court Advantage in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Adebayo is a force on the floor, using his big body and superior condition to make athletic plays in every game.
Luka Doncic may already be the best point guard in the League. The Mavericks are really fun to watch, and Doncic is the main reason for that. He is averaging a Westbrookian 28.7 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.3 rebounds stat line and the MIP isn’t the only award that Luka is in contention for.
Unlike most NBA awards the Most Improved category has numerous players who should garner attention.
As with the other key award categories, I’ll be providing a more detailed dive into the top candidates including OKC Thunder players in the mix in a separate post. Therefore, I’ll keep this brief and note that while Gilgeous-Alexander has improved enough to be worthy of consideration, voters typically don’t reward sophomores.
Prior to the suspension, the sudden rise of Jayson Tatum pushed him into the consideration but there are at least ten players who’ve delivered MIP worthy campaigns.
Unlike all the other individual awards voters don’t typically place as much emphasis on record and winning. However, this season the team record may be the factor that pushes one player over the top and determines the winner.
Thursday offers up question11 as the T.I. team dive into All-NBA teams. Please let us know your thoughts on Most Improved candidates in the comments section.
Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.