NBA PM: Love Wins Most Improved
Perhaps the easiest NBA award—or rather, the one that elicits the least amount of disgust from fans—is the Most Improved Player superlative. And by selecting Minnesota’s Kevin Love for the honor this season, the media seemingly made the right choice yet again.
But how can anyone really say which player improved the most? Obviously Love made a major jump in points (20.2 PPG this year as opposed to 14 PPG in 2009-2010), rebounds (15.2 RPG this year, 11 RPG last), free throw percentage (85%, 81.5%), field goal percentage (47%, 45%), 3-point percentage (41.7%, 33%) and, naturally, Player Efficiency Rating (24.39, 20.72). However HoopsStats.com‘s efficiency model produces three players (Phoenix’s Marcin Gortat, Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin and—gasp—Toronto’s Reggie Evans) as having improved as much or more than Love did from last season.
So why did Love win over those three, or, say, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State’s Dorell Wright and Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who finished second, third and fourth respectively?
What little debate exists seems to center around the perception of stardom. Rose may have been one before this year, while Wright and Aldridge didn’t quite hit that echelon. Love, however, wasn’t quite a star in 2009-2010, but reached that level (at least from a Fantasy perspective) by racking up 53 consecutive double-doubles and beating Dwight Howard for the league’s rebounding title.
It’s not that Love wasn’t good last season. It’s just that this year voters could open a newspaper, skim the league leaders and see his name with the likes of Howard.
While the Most Improved award rarely ignites public uproar (like, say, Steve Nash’s second MVP award), it hasn’t always been a good indicator of future success. Past winners include such mediocre names as Bobby Simmons, Alan Henderson, Isaac Austic, Gheorghe Muresan, Dana Barros, Don MacLean and Pervis Ellison.
But Love appears to be a different case. He has had to miss some games due to injury, but he doesn’t resemble another "Out of Service" Pervis or a walking stress fracture like Muresan. Love’s conditioning has improved since he entered the league, unlike Austin and Charlotte’ Boris Diaw, another former winner. Most importantly, Love scores points, and that’s the common thread of past winners like Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Zach Randolph, Monta Ellis and Danny Granger, who continued their success.
Could Woodson Coach the Rockets?
As you may have read in the NBA AM, a league source told HOOPWORLD that the Rockets will be patient when it comes to replacing Rick Adelman because they could be eyeing a candidate that’s currently busy with a playoff team.
Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy and former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown’s names have come up, but Steve Kyler said that Magic sources said the chances are very slim that SVG would leave the team. However another name popped up yesterday.
Mark Berman, the sports director for Fox 26 in Houston, has been told by an NBA source that the Rockets have contacted former Hawks coach Mike Woodson to discuss an interview.
"I have big-time interest in it, I mean absolutely," Woodson, who played for the Rockets from 1988 to 1991, told Berman on Tuesday. "It’s a young team that I think has room for growth.
"I think it’s a team that you add a piece or two here or there and you got a chance to compete in the West," he continued. "The fact that I’ve had an opportunity to build a young team in Atlanta, I think [fits] right in in terms of being able to come right in and coach that team up."
Berman was quick to point out that Woodson took the Hawks from 13 wins in 2004-2005 to 53 wins in 2009-2010. Of course, Woodson was coaching young guys like Josh Smith, Marvin Williams and Al Horford with the Hawks, which seems to be his area of expertise.
"When you’re dealing with young people you’ve got to be able to relate to them," Woodson said. "When you got 12 different guys on the team that view things sort of differently as a head coach it’s my job to try to get everybody on the same page and in doing that I’ve got to teach.
"I can only relate to my past experience here in Atlanta," Woodson continued. "When I took over that them it was a gutted team. This team is not a gutted team. This team has pretty good personnel right off the bat. I had a young team of 18, 19, 20 year-old men that I had to teach. We had to do a lot of teaching from a fundamental standpoint in terms of how to play hard and to play at this level."
And that might be the belief Woodson has to beat to get his next job. In Atlanta, he was a teacher, but they fired him because he wasn’t perceived as someone who could take the next step.
- Manu Ginobili needed only 17 points in Game 2 to lead the Spurs in scoring and tie their first-round series with the Grizzlies at 1-1. Ginobili missed the team’s Game 1 loss, but returned Wednesday night to grab seven boards and pick up four steals.
"I think Ginobili not playing had more to do with [the Game 1 loss]," he said. "He is a key figure in what san Antonio does. If he misses more time, that could be serious. He’s in the middle for everything. He’s their finisher. That’s a big difference. That’s like taking [Mariano] Rivera off the Yankees."
- After last night’s crushing defeat in Oklahoma City, the Nuggets are staring at an 0-2 hole. However Denver has conquered adversity all season and will be playing Game 3 at home, where the team lost only eight times this season. It may look bleak now, but the series could be tied by Monday night.
HOOPSWORLD’s Tommy Beer and I have debated the issue and come to a decision: Milwaukee’s duo of Brad Lohaus and Blue Edwards was the worst combo on NBA Jam. The Bullets pairing of Tom Gugliotta and Harvey Grant was bad, but nothing makes a kid want to go outside and play like trying to throw an alley-oop from Edwards to Lohaus.
Both were fine players in real life, but NBA Jam was not really their realm.
Oh, by the way, NBA Jam has finally launched an application for the iPad. The franchise already had a top selling game for EA Mobile on the iPhone, but now friends can play each other with a new multiplayer feature via iPad or iPhone.
Also, the iPad version has secret players, but it’s still not known if you can play as Al Gore again.
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