Ryan Anderson, who didn’t improve a lick, is Most Improved Player

Ryan Anderson is not the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season.

Yes, the voting by a media panel says he is, and the Orlando Magic made a big to-do about their guy winning the award, even though he really didn’t improve and has stunk up the postseason joint something fierce over the last week.

But Anderson should not have been voted Most Improved Player. Andrew Bynum should have. Or James Harden. Or Gerald Green, who wasn’t even in the NBA the last two years. How’s that for improvement?

Yes, Anderson raised his scoring average 5.5 points to 16.1 – per game. He led the NBA in 3-pointers attempted and made. He was a better rebounder – per game – and his free-throw shooting climbed from good to very good.

But most of what Anderson accomplished was due to a dramatic increase in burn – from 22 minutes last season to 32 this season – per game. The award is Most Improved Player, not Most Improved Playing Time.

Per 36 minutes, Anderson’s scoring climbed barely a point (17.2 to 18.0). His rebounding actually dropped (9.0 to 8.6). Also down were his 3-pointers made and attempted, assists and blocks. His shooting climbed one measly percentage point from .430 to .439. And his 3-point shooting was exactly the same at .373.

What exactly did Anderson improve, besides his status on a weakened roster?

Did those incremental nudges – and drops – really warrant 33 first-place votes and 260 points? Come on.

And Anderson should be thanking his lucky stars that ballots had to be in before the start of the postseason, where he is averaging 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting less than 32 percent and leading all playoff performers with 14 fouls.

Per 36 minutes, Bynum’s scoring average was up 4.4 points to 19.1. He also increased his defensive rebounds and free-throw attempts while bringing his foul shooting to an acceptable level. In addition, he cut his fouls in half, which certainly went a long way toward staying on the floor eight more minutes per game.

And there is no denying Bynum has surpassed Pau Gasol as the second option on the Lakers behind Kobe Bryant.

Bynum got 13 firsts and 96 points, finishing fourth behind Anderson, Ersan Ilyasova and Nikola Pekovic. What Bynum really got was screwed.

Harden remains Oklahoma City’s third option behind studs Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. His increases per 36 minutes are borderline spectacular. Taking virtually the same amount of shots as last season, his scoring went up 2.9 points (to 19.3) while his assists rose 1.3 (to 4.2).

Harden accomplished this by becoming a better shooter, raising his field-goal percentage from .436 to .491 and his 3-point shooting from .349 to .390. He also is shooting – and making – an extra free throw per 36 minutes.

That’s an improved player, folks. Except to the voters, who gave Harden zero firsts and seven points. What league are you watching, may I ask?

Or how about Green? His NBA numbers were zeros across the board last season, when he played a second straight campaign in Russia. After basically being banished from the league in 2009, just making a team showed dramatic improvement.

Yes, 31 games with the woeful Nets may not be the ideal sample size, but Green averaged 12.9 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 48 percent overall and 39 percent from the arc, all career highs.

Green did not receive a single point. That was 91 less than Jeremy Lin, who received 10 firsts even though he played just 35 games.

Look, we understand that Most Improved Player is annually the broadest category, with plenty of candidates impacted by criteria and eye of the beholder. Thirty players received votes and 20 – yes, 20 – received first-place votes, including Andrew Bogut.

But next season, Most Improved Player should perhaps come with a corresponding award for Most Improved Voter. It’s not really that much trouble to come up with a short list and compare them side by side. We just did it right here.

The embarrassing voting is below. Five points for first, three for second, one for third.

Player 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Ryan Anderson 33 27 14 260
Ersan Ilyasova 21 15 9 159
Nikola Pekovic 10 15 9 104
Greg Monroe 10 9 19 96
Andrew Bynum 13 8 7 96
Jeremy Lin 10 8 17 91
Goran Dragic 4 8 10 54
Avery Bradley 4 4 4 36
Danny Green 3 3 3 27
Jeff Teague 1 5 7 27
Serge Ibaka 2 2 0 26
Ty Lawson 1 3 2 16
Paul George 2 1 0 13
Steve Novak 1 2 1 12
DeMarcus Cousins 0 2 5 11
Kevin Love 1 0 3 8
Roy Hibbert 0 1 4 7
James Harden 0 2 1 7
Gerald Henderson 1 0 1 6
Marcin Gortat 1 0 1 6
Kyle Lowry 1 0 0 5
Andrew Bogut 1 0 0 5
Marc Gasol 1 0 0 5
Gordon Hayward 0 1 1 4
Arron Afflalo 0 1 0 3
C.J. Watson 0 1 0 3
Brandan Wright 0 1 0 3
Tony Parker 0 1 0 3
Jarrett Jack 0 0 1 1
Marreese Speights 0 0 1 1





  1. Truth teller says

    You are so right, how did Gerald Green not win??? I mean like you stated he was out the lead and then comes back and averages more than some starters(marvin William, etc). Bynum (even though lakers are my team) just got more chances and when he seen more shots his effort on d increased (typical of young players) . But lin was another obvious choice, believe the hype or nor almost out the league to sensation take some serious skills.

  2. aj says

    Shut up. Your all over Ryan Andersen for increased playing time but don’t go into Bynums increased shots, possession in the paint, etc. I would like to see a similar breakdown for Bynum and see if he actually increased his stats by that much or just his rate of usage went higher in the minutes he played.

  3. John says

    If Ryan Anderson scored 5.5 points per game and played 22 minutes per game last season, that means he scored 9.0 points every 36 minutes, not 17.2. So his scoring doubled per 36 minutes (from 9.0 to 18.2), I’m not saying he’s the most improved player, but learn to do simple math before making an argument.

    • Darin says

      You are not using the correct formula to calculate Per-36 averages. First, you divide his total minutes played by 36. Then, divide his total points by your result from the first calculation.

  4. Arky says

    The Bogut vote stuck out for me as well. I assume that’s a writer who covers either the Bucks or Golden State trying to make some kind of comedy point (or win a bet).

    Totally agreed Chris. The Ryan Anderson love has me perplexed- there’s no better example of a “most increased minutes” type of candidate (or of people looking purely at “per game” numbers).

    I don’t see why a limited number of games should be a disqualifier- I would have voted for Jeremy Lin if I had a vote, because why should “Most Improved” have to mean someone who was a regular in the rotation all season? Surely someone who goes from not in the rotation to starting to being seriously put in the conversation for the team’s most valuable player, that’s “Most Improved” whether it’s for 35 games or 50 games or 66 games?


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