NBA

Top 10 Candidates for 2014 NBA Most Improved Player Award

10 Best Candidates for 2014 NBA Most Improved Player Award

NBA Most Improved Player
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The NBA’s Most Improved Player award has a somewhat convoluted meaning at this point. No one seems to know whether the award is to honor a player redeeming himself and making a comeback, a player becoming a star, or just natural progression. However, all are improvement in some way, so it’s hard to complain. Even with those wide parameters, here are the top 10 candidates for the award this season.

10. Kendall Marshall

10. Kendall Marshall
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10. Kendall Marshall

10. Kendall Marshall
Richard Mackson - USA Today Sports Images

As a rookie, Kendall Marshall floundered trying to garner playing time and seemed like another precautionary tale about leaving college a year too soon. After starting the year in the D-League, though, the point guard has found a home and success with the Los Angeles Lakers, albeit in a dismal year for the team. He’s been inconsistent still, but Marshall has redeemed himself a great deal.

9. Gerald Green

9. Gerald Green
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9. Gerald Green

9. Gerald Green
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports Images

The Indiana Pacers signed Gerald Green last season, hoping he’d give their bench a lift; he did not. However, after being dealt to the Phoenix Suns, Green has had a phenomenal season. He’s been a huge offensive force for the upstart Suns off of the bench, providing highlights in transition and a reliable perimeter scoring option. Not many expected this or anything from Green this season.

8. DeAndre Jordan

8. DeAndre Jordan
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8. DeAndre Jordan

8. DeAndre Jordan
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DeAndre Jordan couldn’t even stay on the floor in the fourth quarter under Vinny Del Negro and now he’s the leading rebounder in the NBA and has been an enormous asset for the Clippers. There are still plenty of shortcomings in his game, but new head coach Doc Rivers has certainly been rewarded for the faith he entrusted in Jordan upon arriving in L.A.

7. DeMar DeRozan

7. DeMar DeRozan
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7. DeMar DeRozan

7. DeMar DeRozan
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While it largely is a construct of the Raptors trading Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan has never been better. He’s averaging career-highs across the board in Toronto this season and has helped lead his team to the postseason for the first time in a while. DeRozan deserves plenty of recognition for what he’s been able to accomplish this season.

6. Monta Ellis

6. Monta Ellis
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6. Monta Ellis

6. Monta Ellis
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Many people had written off Monta Ellis after his tenure with the Bucks, but coming to the Mavericks and playing under Rick Carlisle has turned things around a great deal. Ellis has become more efficient and a smarter and more willing playmaker and facilitator in Dallas. Considering how he was playing last year, he certainly qualifies as improved.

5. Blake Griffin

5. Blake Griffin
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5. Blake Griffin

5. Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin is one of those guys that would qualify as a player making a leap to stardom or superstardom. Particularly while Chris Paul was injured, Griffin has taken his game to a new level and has really been the leader for the Clippers this season. We’ve always known the physical part was there with Griffin, but now he’s showing the skills to complement those physical attributes.

4. Anthony Davis

4. Anthony Davis
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4. Anthony Davis

4. Anthony Davis
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While you might argue that a number of talented young players make a leap from their rookie year to their second season, what Anthony Davis has done this year has been incredible. He’s looked like a legitimate superstar quicker than almost anyone could have expected. Because of that, he’s certainly in the running for this award.

3. Greg Oden

3. Greg Oden
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3. Greg Oden

3. Greg Oden
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While his production or workload hasn’t been huge, Greg Oden simply getting into NBA action qualifies him for Most Improved. After all that the big man has been through in his basketball career, he deserves to be recognized for finally making it back into the Association and this award would be a great way to honor his comeback.

2. Lance Stephenson

2. Lance Stephenson
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2. Lance Stephenson

2. Lance Stephenson
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We caught glimpses of Lance Stephenson’s talent in previous seasons, but this year is the first time he’s really proven to be the all-around contributor that he’s capable of being. Stephenson has far and away had the best season of his career and will certainly be one of the favorites to take home the MIP award.

1. Goran Dragic

1. Goran Dragic
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1. Goran Dragic

1. Goran Dragic
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports Images

I don’t see how anyone other than Goran Dragic gets this award this season. While Dragic has been a solid performer for quite a while, he’s taken his game to new heights and near-stardom this season. Dragic has carried the Suns for months now and is a huge reason why they’re still in the mix to make the postseason. If he’s not the league’s Most Improved when the voting takes place, I’d be shocked.