The race for this season’s Most Improved Player reminds me of one of those computer-simulated races that take place on the jumbotrons at arenas throughout the country. You know what I’m talking about. They’ve got the cute characters and cool animation, but they end up with more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Most races go something like this:
First, the Donut jumps out and takes a sizable lead, and you think no one is going to catch him. You think it’s all over, but suddenly and inexplicably, the Donut just s l o w s d o w n , as if he hit some sort of time-altering vortex or suffered an untimely bowel movement. He allows the Giant Coffee Cup to blow past him, like Usain Bolt in the 200-meter dash.
Of course, now you think the Coffee Cup is going to cruise to the finish line. But then he hits the vortex, and the Blueberry Muffin comes out of nowhere – he was just sitting at the starting line like an idiot and somehow takes over. He’s cruising like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes until the Everything Bagel runs him down an pulls out an emotional, last-second victory in what seems like Lap 119.
You cry like Adam Morrison as you realize that you have the Donut ticket and won’t be receiving a free chocolate frosted donut with the purchase of a medium or large coffee at any Chicagoland area Dunkin’ Donuts.
Now, I’m not saying the race for Most Improved Player is going to be filled with quite as much raw emotion. Few sporting events are.
But I’m not saying it won’t be, either. In fact, I’m not really sure what I’ve just said.
Like the Donut, Kemba Walker burst into the rankings last week, in large part because he guided the Bobcats to a 7-5 start. But he’s been jettisoned this week after the Bobcats remembered that they are, well, the Bobcats. Charlotte has lost 11 in a row. Walker is still having a great season (18.1 ppg, 6.1 apg) but you can’t be in the running for Most Improved Player when the rest of your team plays like this guy.
Luckily for the Bobcats, they will travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday to take on the slump-busting Lakers. So you may see Walker return to the list soon.
For now, his place will be taken by Stephen Curry, whose Warriors are off to a 16-8 start, their best since 1991-92 (not counting the time when a handsome young shooting guard named Kels Dayton led them to a 20-0 start on MyPlayer mode in NBA 2K12).
Golden State is clearly the most improved team in the league this season, and Curry is a major reason why.
On to the rankings.