5 breakout candidates for the 2023–24 NBA Most Improved Player Award

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5. Shaedon Sharpe

Sharpe's case for Most Improved Player:

2023-24: 16.9 pts, 5.3 reb, 3.1 ast
2022-23: 9.9 pts, 3.0 reb, 1.2 ast

The offseason departure of Damian Lillard and an Anfernee Simons thumb injury has led to ample playing time and scoring opportunity for Shaedon Sharpe, and he has not disappointed. The second-year guard leads the Blazers in minutes played and is third on the team in scoring with 16.9 points per game. 

Not only is Sharpe scoring more, but he’s getting to the charity stripe at a higher rate. After attempting just 1.3 free throws per game as a rookie, he’s averaging 4.3 free throw attempts so far this season. 

Although Sharpe has increased his scoring output by nearly seven points per game, his shot selection and efficiency have left a lot to be desired. Both his field goal and 3-point percentages are well below the league average. He’s only 20 years old, so growing pains are to be expected, but he’s got to improve his decision-making and defense.

He continues to show flashes of the athleticism and confidence that made him the seventh overall pick last season despite not playing a single game at Kentucky, but until his efficiency takes a turn in the right direction, games played are the only thing separating Sharpe from Cam Thomas in the Most Improved Player award race.

It’s also worth noting, that since the award’s inception in 1986, only five players have been crowned the Most Improved Player in their second season.