Although probably my least favorite of the NBA awards, the Most Improved Player of The Year award can be a fun race. Or it can be that one award where you know the winner after the NBA’s opening week. That is exactly what happened last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo ended the 2015-16 on a great run which continued into last year and eventually got him the NBA’s Most Improved Player of The Year award. However, Nikola Jokic was a late contender and made things somewhat interesting with his triple doubles and spectacular passes. Although, with a new year comes a new batch of competitors looking to bounce back from lackluster seasons.
So let’s take a look at who could be in the running for the 2017-18 Most Improved Player of The Year award.
Jokic finished second last season in the MIP voting and is by far the favorite to win entering this season. However, it will be tough for him to improve on his 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.9 assists a game. That is the part that I think most people don’t understand. the MIP award is mainly for players who went from average to great. Jokic though is already a great player and is expected to continue that into next season. Then again, If Jokic can carry the Nuggets into the playoffs and improve alongside veteran power forward, Paul Millsap, it will be hard for voters to not consider him for the award. Jokic would also have to earn his first all star appearance and improve his stat line tremendously. Although, Nikola will be entering just his third NBA season and has shown a great amount of potential. Jokic also recorded seven triple doubles which was fourth among all NBA players. However, Nikola’s amazing surge was not until midseason due to lack of play time. Then there’s the Denver factor. It’s no secret that the Nuggets are a small market organization which has had no players earn any awards for at least four years. This is not always a negative factor though because if Jokic can continue his incredible play and win over the fans of that town, they will force him into the running for any sort of NBA award. We saw it last season with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and we could see it again with Jokic. All in all, here my predicted stats for Nikola Jokic’s 2017-18 NBA season.
Predicted Stats: 19.3 Points Per Game, 10.6 Rebounds Per Game, 6.0 Assists Per Game, 55.1% Field Goal Percentage, 33.6% Three Point Field Goal Percentage
Ingram is a prime candidate for this award. His first NBA season was considerably disappointing as he averaged just 9.4 points per game after being selected with the number two pick in the 2016 draft. Expected to be one of the Lakers cornerstones, Ingram was compared to Kevin Durant but averaged nearly 11 points less and shot 3% worse from the field. However, no one can expect a player to have as good a rookie season as Kevin Durant. It also speaks volumes that the Lakers open to trading any players on their roster whose name was not Brandon Ingram. When one of the NBA’s greatest all time point guards compliments you to that high of a standard, you know that you have the support of your organization and that you can one day be an NBA superstar. However, Ingram will need to drastically improve his shooting and confidence offensively before he can make the improvements he needs to. Ingram will also be receiving passes from Lonzo Ball, who led the nation in assists last year averaging 7.6 a game. Although, the Lakers did add two new scorers in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez. These additions are worrisome because Pope averaged 12.2 shots per game last season while Lopez averaged 15.6 shots a game. However, the Lakers coaching staff will most likely cater to Ingram and do their best to move his development along. Not to mention that the second year of a players career is usually when they start to break out and get comfortable playing in the NBA. With that said let’s take a look at the 2017-18 predicted stats for Brandon Ingram.
Predicted Stats: 15.7 Points Per Game, 5.1 Rebounds Per Game, 2.8 Assists Per Game, 46.3% Field Goal Percentage, 33.0% Three Point Field Goal Percentage
Myles Turner should be the Pacers best player for years to come. With the absence of Paul George, Turner will have a chance at playing in his first NBA all star game and could possibly break into the realm of the leagues best defensive centers. However, it is no secret that the Pacers will be one of the NBA’s worst teams which could affect his chances at any awards/honors. It isn’t uncommon for sub par teams to send at least one NBA player to an all star game and or promote them for whatever awards they are up for due to the fact they have nothing else going on in April. Last season, Turner averaged 14.5 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks on 51.1% shooting from the field. Two years ago, Turner had an incredible playoff series against the Toronto Raptors proving that when given the chance, Myles can perform at a high standard and dominate his opponent. Turner is also a very young player which fares well in your ability to improve as he still five or six years from reaching the peak of his career. However, the Pacers possess another young star in Victor Oladipo who I believe could also be in the running for this award. Oladipo though will likely be the team’s second offensive option as they will look to cater towards Turner and attempt to develop him into an NBA superstar. Below are my predictions for Myles Turner 2017-18 NBA season.
Predicted Stats: 18.3 Points Per Game, 10.0 Rebounds Per Game, 1.6 Assists Per Game, 48.3% Field Goal Percentage, 37.2% Three Point Percentage
Although riddled with injuries, Jusuf Nurkic is a solid NBA center. Many years, the Most Improved Player award goes to someone who was injured for much of the previous season but then came back to have a good year. That needs to be the story of Nurkics upcoming season if Jusuf can stay healthy and properly develop his game, he should have no trouble being one of the NBA’s finalists for the MIP award. Last season, Nurkic averaged 10.2 points a game, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on 50.7% shooting from the field. However, he played just over 60 regular season games and was traded in the middle of the season from the Denver Nuggets to the Portland Trail Blazers. The reason for this trade is due to the development of Nikola Jokic and flood of big men the Nuggets had possessed. Nurkic was a key component to the Blazers late season run but unfortunately fractured a bone in his leg and missed most of the teams first round series against the eventual champion, Golden State Warriors. During his time in Portland, Nurkic soared and averaged 15.2 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. It’s safe to say that Nurkic has found a team and organization he fits in with and will probably continue his dominance into next year. With that said, we will predict Jusuf Nurkic’s stats for the 2017-18 NBA season,
Predicted Stats: 16.2 Points Per Game, 10.4 Rebounds Per Game, 3.8 Assists Per Game, 52.0% Field Goal Percentage, 0% Three Point Field Goal Percentage
Biggest Stat Jumps:
Points Per Game: Brandon Ingram- 6.3 Point Increase
Rebounds Per Game: Jusuf Nurkic- 3.2 Rebound Increase
Assist Per Game: Jusuf Nurkic- 1.9 Assist Increase
Field Goal Percentage: Brandon Ingram- 6.1% Increase
Three Point Field Goal Percentage: Brandon Ingram- 3.6% Increase