Most Improved Player Rankings: Week 14


In case you don’t subscribe to the opinion that this column is one of the five most important literary works of our time, I refer you to  Super Bowl XLVII.

If an NFL version of the Most Improved rankings existed, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would have been a fixture in them. In the past year, Flacco has made the leap from good quarterback on a playoff team to MVP of the Super Bowl champions. An NFL version of this column would have been all over Flacco’s improvement, like that nerd on Bar Refaeli.

You see, it’s important to keep an eye on the up-and-comers. If you don’t, you’ll lose the Super Bowl, or at at least get smoked in that game of one-on-one with your little cousin because you didn’t think he could hit that step-back J in your face for a ninth straight time. (Yeah, that’s for you, Jon! You’re going down next time!)

Some of the guys on our list have made Flacco-like leaps this year, and although none of them will sniff the NBA title (Indiana’s Paul George has the best chance), they’ve all made a lasting impact on the 2012-13 season.

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler has emerged as a defensive dynamo and a double-figure scorer.  He crashes the rankings for the first time this week because it would have been criminal not to reward him for such inspiring play.

Rankings-leader Jrue Holiday has kept the Sixers from Bobcats-level suckiness. He’s done everything but sell popcorn and keep the power on in the Wells Fargo Center. (See what I did there?)

If we learned anything on Sunday, it’s that America loves improvement. That’s why we watch the Super Bowl. It’s why we spend time debating things like, “Is Flacco an elite QB now that he’s won a title?” or “Is Kels Dayton the next David Halberstam?”

And that’s also why this column is one of the seminal literary works of our time. It captures the essence of American culture, like that KFC sandwich where the meat is the bun. (Now, that’s improvement).

So sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in this timeless classic. Get ready.

On to the rankings.

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  1. Good list Chris. How do you feel about Jarrett Jack at least cracking into your “FIVE TO WATCH” group?

    • Or maybe I should note the author before I ask my question. Sorry about that Kels…great work…

      • Haha thanks T. Jack was a great candidate last year; he averaged 15.6 ppg and 6.3 assists. But his numbers are down a little from that this year. He’s still really improved from 2 years ago and has become a steady, starting-quality PG in the league. But last year was really the year he made the big jump. He just played for the Hornets, so nobody recognized.

  2. stepxxxxz says:

    sanders needs to stay on there. He’s become an elite shot blocker and a starter. Vasquez for sure is improved but not over Vuk or Butler. I might drop kemba and add sanders again, or …..perhaps david lee for learning to play D. Earl Clark isnt even on the radar in my opinion. Talk about the luck of playing next to kobe pau and the dwightmare. Clark is actually a terrible defender, too. Andray Blatche? (and as an after thought….paul george has made a big jump, BUT, he was already pretty good last season…….guys like Vasquez seem to have totally started new careers….same for sanders, actually). Tiago Splitter as well……man, he was very mediocre last season, and now is a legit big man with a pretty complete game.

    • Very thorough analysis, man. I love the dedication to our site. You’re right…there’s just so many candidates it’s hard to pick just 10.

      • One of the things Kels and I discussed when planning these rankings was that it was highly possible that five wouldn’t do it justice. With so many players leaving school early and learning on the job, this award never has a shortage of candidates. The best part of that is that loyal readers voice their opinions, which have been pretty spot-on, and generate debate (and, yes, site hits too). We appreciate all of it. CB

  3. How can you take Greivis off the list?!! He’s 3rd in assists

  4. Good rank, but i think Earl Clark deserves some mention too, that guy came from nowhere.

  5. Love the rankings Kels, but would love to see Eric Bledsoe crack the list.

    • That’s one of the problems…there are so many great candidates. Bledsoe has had a nice year, and he is a much better player than he was last year. But he’s not as improved as Greivis Vasquez or Kemba Walker because those guys are carrying their teams. And I can’t give Earl Clark any mention when it’s a complete joke that that guy starts over Pau Gasol. Just a protest on my part.

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