A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2010-11 NBA Predictions: Most Improved Player

with 2 comments

We now move from the perfectly reasonable awards, to those that are borderline irrational.  Last year Kevin Durant went from non-all-star to finishing 2nd in MVP voting.  It’s possibly the most improvement I have ever seen any player do in one year, and he didn’t win the MIP.  Instead, Aaron Brooks won the award – a guy who if you look at per minute numbers, it’s not clear if he even improved over the previous year.  Such is life with the NBA’s MIP:  If Brooks had actually improved like Durant had, he probably doesn’t win this award, because he wins other more prestigious awards instead.

I’m afraid that I’m not bold enough to predict who will show the goldilocks improvement the voters are looking for, so I’ll just go with the guy I think is most likely to see a massive and positive change in estimation among the basketigentsia:  Kevin Love.

Now, should Love emerge as a strong candidate for the MIP, there’s bound to be some naysayers who say that by his per minute numbers, he didn’t improve that much.  This will likely be a reasonable position, as I wouldn’t be picking Love here if he hadn’t already appeared to do so much in the little time Coach Rambis and GM Kahn have let him play.  However there’s still far from a consensus that Love can really be a star player.  Timberwolf fans I’ve talked to over the off-season often seemed more excited about acquiring Michael Beasley than about Love.  Then there’s the matter that Love couldn’t seem to get any playing time on Coach K’s USA team at the Worlds competition this summer despite putting up better per minute numbers than anyone but Durant.

There’s more to basketball than box score stats.  I know that, and I’ll preach to that.  If Coach K has a dog, I’m sure that dog knows more about basketball than I do simply because of osmosis.  I’ll put myself out there and admit openly, I don’t see why Love’s stats are fool’s gold.  I understand he’s not a great defender, and that’s not a trivial matter, but I’ve watched this guy since he was at UCLA and to me he’s not simply adequate intangibles, but great intangibles.  I think he can be a star in this league, and I expect that this year he’ll do well enough to get in the all-star conversation, probably only falling short because the rest of his team is so bad.


Written by Matt Johnson

October 26, 2010 at 12:47 am

2 Responses

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  1. Love is quality, and it’s a pity he’s buried on a bottom feeder team. You don’t think he’s too young (i.e. will have the “it’s just natural improvement” explanation)?


    October 27, 2010 at 4:26 am

    • Ah, that’s a point worth bringing up.

      The “natural improvement” thing is something I think only factors in with the very top prospects. The guys who if they don’t reach All-NBA level are a disappointment.

      It’s actually become pretty normal for 3rd year guys to win this award, and we’ve seen two second year guys younger than Love win it (Arenas and Ellis). Granted those guys were drafted much later than Love, but Love still wasn’t looked by most as a guy with a good shot to be a top tier star by most, so I don’t think he’ll hit that obstacle.


      October 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

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