The NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year Award is a lot like the game “I Win” from Big Daddy: It’s trivial, and nobody understands the rules or parameters, but darn it, do we still like to talk about it and get pissed off when our choice doesn’t win. Without any set precedence for what kind of player deserves the only kind of MIP you want attached to your name, there are literally dozens of worthy candidates that could receive the award this season or at least be in consideration for it.
Should Anthony Davis get it because of his monster season, even though we already knew in his first season that his unibrow would one day haunt the dreams of his opponents with the kind of reckless abandon that only pre-surgery Pierre the Pelican could brag about? Should we give it to Blake Griffin because he finally found a jump shot? Even Kevin Durant wouldn’t be a wrong answer, since “nice guys” don’t normally just turn into the Slim Reaper overnight (and no, KD, nobody is going to call you “The Servant”).
But in my opinion, the Most Improved Player of the Year Award should go to an underdog who’s emerged as a top dog over the course of a season. We have MVP awards for the superstars, but the MIP has always leaned more toward guys who normally wouldn’t get the recognition for having breakout seasons.
For those of us that actually care about this award, We want our MIP to be a guy who came out of nowhere like a bat out of hell or a Rudy Gay out of any franchise that actually wants to win games. With that in mind, here are the top five MIP candidates, with honorable mentions as well.