An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett
Not-so improved Ryan Anderson named Most Improved Player
What do identical numbers per 36 minutes, but with a more prominent spot in a team's rotation, get you?
Most Improved Player, of course.
Not to say Ryan Anderson, who was named Most Improved Player today, didn't have a solid season. A year after serving as a three-point specialist off the bench for the Magic, Anderson was elevated to one of Orlando's featured scorers. He didn't miss a beat, averaging 16.1 points in 32.2 minutes per game, and led the league in three-pointers made (166) and attempted (422).
But look at Anderson's extrapolated averages the last three years:
Each of the last three seasons, Anderson's field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounding numbers and scoring average per 36 minutes have been stagnant. As a 23-year-old, wouldn't you expect a natural increase across the board? So wouldn't Most Improved make absolutely no sense for Anderson?
Here are the per-36 minutes the last two seasons for two far superior candidates, Ersan Ilyasova:
And Nikola Pekovic:
Ilyasova's points improved substantially, and his field goal percentage, three-point percentage and rebounding numbers jumped. Similarly, Pekovic pulled down two more boards per 36 minutes, scored four more points, and shot far better from the floor.
Of the two, Ilyasova has the best case for being robbed. He played nearly identical minutes from 2010-11 to 2011-12 (25.1 to 27.6), so you can't attribute his improved paces simply to a bigger role in the Bucks' rotation. He, in the plainest sense, just improved. Add in the fact he's only a year older than Anderson, and it's hard to explain why Anderson received more votes, other than the fact that he heaved and hit a ton of threes.
Ilyasova and Pekovic finished second and third in the voting, respectively.
As for the omission of Jeremy Lin, I just don't think he played enough to warrant serious consideration. In a 66-game season, Lin played double-digit minutes just 26 times. Had he stayed healthy, it would've been hard to vote against him.
Both Ilyasova and Anderson will be free agents this offseason, Ilyasova an unrestricted free agent, and Anderson restricted. Both are in the top 10 of our 2012 free agent rankings.