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

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers
Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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1. Tyrese Maxey

Maxey's case for Most Improved Player:

2023-24: 26.3 pts, 4.7 reb, 7.1 ast
2022-23: 20.3 pts, 2.9 reb, 3.5 ast

Every time I see Tyrese Maxey pull off a remarkable move and knock down a tough shot over a defender, I can't help but think back to when the Sixers drafted him, and his college head coach John Calipari took to X (formerly Twitter) to warn the other NBA teams they will regret passing on him.

While he has the luxury of playing alongside the reigning NBA MVP, Joel Embiid, what Tyrese Maxey has done thus far this season has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s increased his scoring production by six points and nearly doubled his assists per game from last season.

He’s enjoying a nice uptick in usage this season, and it’s paying dividends, averaging career-bests in every major statistical category. Earlier this month, Maxey went on a heater where he scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive games, highlighted by a career-high 50-point performance against the Indiana Pacers.

Despite playing more minutes and attempting a lot more shots per game, we have not seen a significant dip in his efficiency. While his shooting percentages have dropped slightly, he’s improved upon his free throw shooting. He's converted nearly 90% of his free throw attempts to date, and his true shooting percentage is slightly above league average.

Maxey has always been a talented scorer, but he’s also done a terrific job keeping his teammates involved and distributing the ball in James Harden’s stead. He has four games with double-digit assists after failing to accomplish the feat a single time last season.

He also has five double-doubles (four times with assists and once with rebounds) on the season after recording just one over his first three seasons combined. Maxey has grown into a leader for this Philadelphia 76ers team and a complimentary force alongside Embiid. If he continues on this trajectory, he’s going to run away with this award.