Most Improved player? Bulls have three candidates

Most Improved player?  Bulls have three candidates

The NBA's most improved player award seems to be one of the most difficult to project. Frequently, it goes to the guy who had his minutes jump from 10 to 30 per game who just continued to do the same things he was doing in 10. Gauging which type of improvement constitutes "most" can be challenging as well when differentiating how difficult it is to make the leap from scrub to pedestrian or pedestrian to star or star to superstar.

The star to superstar player doesn't seem like they ever get a vote. They probably should. It's the most difficult transition and the most meaningful for the team. The year Derrick Rose won the MVP, he should have also won the MIP, but they like to spread the awards around so it doesn't happen.

Looking at this year, there's a number of high quality candidates, and on the surface, I'd think the Bulls have three such candidates even though none of the three have any real chance to win, and it wouldn't surprise me if even collectively they didn't even earn a single vote.

Taj Gibson

Taj is a name who won't come up in any other article discussing the award, however, I bring him up because he actually deserves some recognition for his improvements.

The thing with Taj is his improvement is subtle. It's not a massive change in his stats or minutes, but in the way he can achieve them. His confidence and use for his team are radically different. Taj is a guy who was a hustle offensive player to a legitimate scoring threat. His jumper is now consistent, his range is improved, he added a turn around, and his post game is better.

This type of improvement, especially so late in one's career is perhaps the most unlikely. Taj has no shot to win the award and his momentum as a sixth man candidate likely dooms him from even getting a single third place vote here. For the minor awards people like to spread the love, so Taj is unlikely to appear in both spots.

D.J. Augustin

Augustin is the type of candidate whom you think would typically get a good vote. He went from guy who was on his way out of the NBA to quite possibly the second most important player on the third or fourth seeded team in the playoffs. Much like Gibson, I don't think Augustin will sniff the award.

That said, similar things could have been said about Nate Robinson who didn't receive a single vote last season which is really kind of a shame consider who did get votes. However, frequently the voters want to try to avoid turning it into the future bust award, so giving it to a guy who's season looks more like an aberration isn't advised.

D.J. Augustin looks pretty legit to me, but I would bet he gets no votes under the Nate Robinson rule. That said, I'm not sure any player who does get votes had their level of importance change so much for their team as D.j.'s did by going from 3rd string backup who was waived mid season to lynch pin on the team with the best record in 2014 in the Eastern Conference.

Joakim Noah

If you thought that Joakim Noah's career votes for MVP would be greater than zero raise your hand.

Put your hand down, you're a liar.

Noah's unlikely to get a 1st or 2nd place vote for MVP, but he'll likely get a few third place votes. Just chew on how unlikely an event that is and tell me he doesn't qualify and shouldn't possibly run away with this thing.

Noah not going to set all time NBA passing records for a center this year simply because it's hard to set all time records against the ultra high pace error of the 60s/70s, but he may have just completed the best passing season by a big man in the history of the NBA when you consider the style of passes he makes and his assist rate.

The best thing is that Noah never forces the issue. He never chases the assist. He doesn't make stupid basketball plays to increase his stats. All the triple doubles he piled up this year were legit because it all fell in the flow of the offense, none of it was to try and run up some numbers.

Noah's improved his scoring rate, rebound rate, and assist rate. He's not just piling up numbers, but the efficiency at which he does so is remarkable.

Oh yeah, he's also got the best defensive rating in the NBA [at least prior to the last day of the season]. Noah's taken a team we all thought should be written off. Hell, I was writing articles about how to tank nearly every day. He took them not just to the playoffs, not just to where they can win a round, but to where we could envision them possibly winning a second round.

That's why he'll probably get a couple 3rd place MVP votes, and the fact that he gets those will likely negate him getting much in the way of MIP votes.

It's a shame for the Bulls, they've got three deserving guys, but I'd bet they get very little love. I don't think any deserve to win, but all of them at least deserve a couple second or third place votes.

Who's the MIP? I'd probably vote for Goran Dragic. He's really taken his game to the next level, radically increased his efficiency and led the biggest record turn around in the NBA as their star player.

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  • All 3 players Noah, Taj, and DJ made great progress without either one the Bulls season would have been impacted greatly. So trying to choose one over the other 2 can be explain on paper but games are won one the court and to determine which one did the best try taking what they did in every game and see if choosing one.

  • What about the player whose play has most regressed this season? Might be a runaway for Carlos Boozer!

  • In reply to MadTown56:

    Kevin Garnett thrashes Boozer for that award.

  • Be interesting to see what direction the Bulls go in the draft, most would say another PG but they might go for another wing with tony snell looking disappointing and of course the center position has needed a backup since Omer got paid. They probably should bring back DJ Augustin if no all star wants to sign, you just can't rely on midrange 1st rounders, they might be good and they might suck. Personally I think the Bulls will kick the tires on trying to get Pau Gasol for a cap friendly deal of around 10 million a year and draft a PG. Let DJ walk and maybe bring back Captain Kirk.

  • Along these lines there are a couple of interesting articles over at ESPN today.

    One picks Noah as should win and will win DPOY and Gibson should win, but will finish 2nd to Crawford as 6th man. Surprisingly Butler gets no love(not even a single point) in DPOY.

    The second article is more interesting. It choses the optimal or "perfect" team based on this years performance and pay scale for a team spending up to the tax apron or just over $75 million.

    Lebron is the foundation player, Love is the running mate(second star), and Noah is the 3rd wheel, with Gibson as the energy big. Patrick Beverly(not Luol Deng) is the glue guy, and Patty Mills(not Nate or DJ) is the bench spark plug.

    Interesting because this article clearly shows how money needs to be distributed throughout the roster. You could basically argue that every guy on it is "underpaid" with not even Lebron at the league max, and Love quite a bit under it(at least until he signs his new contract). It reallys shows how difficult constructing a proper roster will be going forward under the new CBA, since you basically always have to overpay(pay top dollar) to either keep your guy or get someone else's. It underscores the danger/problem with the idea that a guy isn't worth the average of what everyone thinks he is worth, but the most that anyone thinks that he is worth.

    This really shows why you cannot clutter your roster with even one guy like Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng at $14-15-16 million per, nevermind 2.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You really sum up the conundrum of the CBA -- You have to allocate salary very carefully, but everyone is worth the most of what any team thinks he's worth, not the average. So you either overpay for players -- meaning you can no longer get all the players you need to win, or you lose players you need to win.

    As a result, you get what you get now -- the best teams are the ones with the most underpaid players. Underpaid players basically fall into two groups: True superstars at the max, e.g. Lebron, or guys on rookie contracts that play like stars.

    The only good news is that the CBA puts the same constraints on all NBA teams, but unless the CBA changes, the NBA will more superstar-driven than ever before, and that's really saying something.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Agree with everything you said, but a few teams do have the "advantage" of playing in a no-income tax state. Now of course it's not the huge advantage people assume it is, because those states still have budgets to meet, so they have higher property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, automobile taxes, etc etc etc.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    The only way for sustained success is what the Spurs have done - get your core players to buy into the fact you win 50+ games without even trying so they sign on for a discount, then seek out bargain players to plug in around them, letting them leave and replacing them whenever they want a dollar more than what you think they're worth to you.

    Then again who knows if that's even repeatable - getting three hall of fame players (the HOF is beyond broken if Manu doesn't make it when Mitch Richmond just did) to play their entire career on one team just seems so improbable.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    You're right of course, but Bulls fans don't buy it. They are still bitching about not paying Asik $25 million over 3 years to be a backup center.

    Korver. Nate. The list goes on and on, thankfully the FO doesn't listen to the fans...

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    If he recovers well from his knee surgery, in a small way, Bulls may have 'turned the tables' (the backup center tables that is) on Houston with the Greg Smith signing. Houston is obligated to pay Asik $15 million next season and failed in their efforts to trade him this season, largely due to that $15 million I believe.

  • In reply to Edward:

    We both know that we couldn't afford another big man as long as Boozer was eating up 25% of the salary cap- between Asik and Taj, we did make the right choice. But back-up centers who can shot-block and rebound are a quarter-a-dozen, just look at Plumlee and Dieng. Freakin' Cole Aldrich played 40 minutes tonight and he got 13/16 with 5 blocks. Besides, I'm with you on Smith- he's the exact opposite of Asik, mostly offense with not much shot blocking, but this team needs more offense- we have Noah and Taj for defense.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Agree, plus Popovich is one of the best coaches of all time and Duncan is a HOFer among HOFers (especially compared to Mitch Richmond). If I were to construct a roster of 12 NBA players from all time, Duncan is on that roster because he can play both C and PF, provides great offense, defense and leadership; and of course, his nickname indicates that he always brings solid fundamentals to any contest. LeBron is also on that roster, but nobody else currently playing.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    New commissioner David Silver will be pushing for a Hard Cap in the next CBA negotiations. Either owners or players can opt out of this current CBA after year 6 and we are now at halfway point finishing year 3. Silver has also announced his intention to raise the minimum age to 20, from 19 (two years college, from one).

    And the players association doesn't even have anyone representing them since Billy Hunter was let go.

  • "If you thought that Joakim Noah's career votes for MVP would be greater than zero raise your hand."

    *raises hand, no liar*

    Noah got a 5th place vote last year.

  • Looks like the Charlotte pick will be No. 16, while Bulls and Toronto are tied at 19-20. A random drawing breaks the tie for order of draft picks, it is independent of the playoff seeding tiebreaker.

  • Looks like the seedings really fell the Bulls way in the end. Wizards and steaming pile that was the Pacers are both the most favourable matchups you could hope for, this team has a genuine shot at the ECF which is just crazy.

    Man, if healthy, if healthy, if healthy ... how crap is the East this year and how might the team have dominated it if healthy?

    If the team can win 48 games with DJ Augustin and the shell of Boozer? Give us even 75% of what Rose was and 75% of what we hope Mirotic can be and is this team not a contender? Shiiiiit, just one healthy season please?

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