Most Improved Player: The Case for Greg Monroe
There are two types of players that usually win the Most Improved Player award.
The first type, are the players who are looking to sign a new contract. Sometimes these players eventually become future all stars like Kevin Love. At other times they dramatically drop off and are out of the league like Bobby Simmons. Either way, when money is on the line, players dramatically improve. And you can’t really fault them for it. To quote Latrell Sprewell, “I got my family to feed.”
The second type, are the players who have their minutes drastically increased. Sometimes, it’s due to another player’s injury or because the player was traded to a better offensive system. Regardless, more minutes typically mean more stats.
This is why when it’s all said and done, Jeremy Lin will most likely win the most improved player award. It also doesn’t hurt when you are one of the top 100 most influential people in the world and have the league’s best selling jersey.
However, the case can also be made that Lin was a functional rookie this season. It’s difficult to say how much a player has actually improved when they didn’t even play the previous season. Who knows if Lin was this talented last year or not? Maybe he just capitalized on an opportunity that he didn't get to showcase last year? Which would really make him the Most Opportunistic Player not the Most Improved Player.
Not only does Lin’s career sample size hurt him, but this season’s sample size as well. Lin only played in 35 games this season, which makes his data relatively small. His numbers were off the charts and even historic when Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were off the floor, but when they were on the floor his numbers greatly depreciated.
The best way of giving out the most improved player is to players who have a large sample size from the previous year to the following year. It’s the only way of fully justifying an improvement that a player has made. That’s why a strong case can be made with second year player Greg Monroe. Monroe played in all 66 games this season and played in 80 games the previous season; making his sample size large enough to gauge his improvement.
According to NBA.com, Monroe’s point production has increased from 9.4 last season to 15.4 this season. He was ranked 33rd in rebounding last year and was ranked 7th in rebounding this year. Furthermore, he was 6th in the league in double-doubles this season. Last but not least, Greg Monroe is the best player on his team. You can't say that about the other players who are candidates to win the Most Improved Player award. For a second year player to be the foundation and cornerstone of an organization speaks volumes about the faith that they have in Monroe's improvement and trajectory.