2011 NBA Most Improved Player Award

The NBA Most Improved Player Award is one of my favourite individual awards, it is one that is especially debatable. Opinions on the recipient of this award always vary and they’re always contested because it’s more of a judgement call.

Do you award a player who already had superstar potential and then blossomed? Or do you give it to a player who has exceeded all expectations, but didn’t have a better season statistically? This year has been especially tough to call it.

My list might be a little different from most, simply because I put more stalk in certain attributes that don’t always translate onto the stat sheet, but does translate into W’s.

Without question, Kevin Love has to be a front-runner for this award. Kevin Love scored and rebounded his way into the record books this season and was selected as an allstar. Last year, Love was a serviceable big man with a high basketball IQ, range and the strength of an Ox, who left UCLA early. Now he’s Kevin Love the NBA allstar, he averaged a massive double-double of 20.2 points and 15.20 rebounds. Even if he doesn’t get the award, at least he got a cool nickname: “Numbers”.

Most cats don’t have this next guy on their radar and he doesn’t get a lot hype because he plays in a market like Portland. LaMarcus Aldridge would be my pick over Kevin Love. Aldridge has established himself as one of the best scoring forwards in the Western Conference.

With Brandon Roy’s role re-routed…Let me just say, what happened to Brandon Roy is one of the saddest things to happen in the game and it’s sad that the mismanagement of him, a franchise player that was willing to run through walls, has changed his career path.

That said, with Roy’s role change, LaMarcus Aldridge owns that team now and he’s been outstanding. Despite all of the injury problems the Blazers have faced this year, they are still poised to try and upset a team in the first round, much of that is because of Aldridge becoming a consistent force.

Aldridge had a career year, he averaged 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a game and took on the role of go-to-guy like he was always meant to have it.

Derrick Rose exploded onto the superstar scene this year. The United Center may have passed on the spirit of a certain “best player to ever play the game”, former Chicago Bulls player, with six rings… to Derek Rose. Of course, Rose has yet to win anything substantial in the NBA, but the season the former Memphis Bulldog put together was one for the record books.

Rose led his team to the best record in the East. The Bull’s longest losing streak all season long, was less than 3 games; Is a testament to both Derrick Rose’s ability to consistently perform at a high level and of course, Tom Thibodeau’s lockdown defence. Rose averaged 25.1 points and 7.8 assists and gave every NBA fan a set of highlight reel plays and nastiness on the court that make you want hide the women and children.

It’s only his second year as a pro. Sure, he’s up for the MVP award too, which he should get, but he might also deserve the Most Improved. Rose has developed so many facets of his game in such a short period of time that it is truly amazing. He plays at times with the poise of a veteran point guard and at other times with the tenacity of cold blooded scorer. Everything the Bulls have needed, Rose has provided this season, except a ring, to be continued on that…

Others players that had good turn around years included Serge Ibaka who established himself as one of the NBA’s premier shot blockers and Russell Westbrook who might be second to only Rose at the point guard position this season. The world doesn’t want to see those two in the back-court for team USA. Marcin Gortat deserves some recognition for his play and so does Paul Millsap and Luol Deng.

If you take into account for the award a player who’s play significantly and positively affected the team in the win column, then Derrick Rose should win this award. But he probably won’t and Kevin Love will probably walk away with it.