Anthony Davis one of four NBA Most Improved Player nominees (4/18/14)
On Thursday, NBA.com posted videos of four players who have been officially nominated for the 2013-14 KIA Most Improved Player award. They are New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, Phoenix guard Gerald Green and Indiana guard Lance Stephenson. Here’s a closer look at each of the four candidates:
ANTHONY DAVIS, New Orleans Pelicans
2012-13 key averages: 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
2013-14 key averages: 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, NBA-leading 2.8 blocks
Like 2012-13 Most Improved winner Paul George a year ago, Davis made the leap from quality starter to bona fide star, earning his first All-Star appearance. Days after turning 21, the 6-foot-10 forward registered 40 points and 21 rebounds vs. Boston, becoming the youngest NBA player to notch a 40-20 game since a 20-year-old Shaquille O’Neal in 1993.
GORAN DRAGIC, Phoenix Suns
2012-13 key averages: 14.7 points, 7.4 assists, 44.3 field-goal percentage
2013-14 key averages: 20.3 points, 5.9 assists, 50.3 field-goal percentage
The Suns entered 2013-14 projected by many analysts to finish at the bottom of the Western Conference, but behind a breakout season from Dragic, they stayed in the race for a playoff berth until Game 81. Dragic carried surprising Phoenix to a 48-win season, even though starting backcourt partner Eric Bledsoe missed 39 games due to injury.
GERALD GREEN, Phoenix Suns
2012-13 key averages: 7.0 points, 36.6 field-goal percentage, 31.4 three-point percentage
2013-14 key averages: 15.8 points, 44.5 field-goal percentage, 40.0 three-point percentage
Seemingly a throw-in and afterthought in a multi-player trade between Indiana and Phoenix last summer, the former dunk champion played the best basketball of his eight-year NBA career. Blessed with the rare combination of elite athleticism and long-range shooting ability, Green posted five games of 30-plus points, including 41 in a March win vs. Oklahoma City.
LANCE STEPHENSON, Indiana Pacers
2012-13 key averages: 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists
2013-14 key averages: 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists Nicknamed “Born Ready,” it actually took Stephenson four seasons to reach his potential in the NBA, becoming an all-around force who registered five double-doubles during the regular season. Although Indiana staggered a bit in March and April, Stephenson was one of the biggest reasons the Pacers started 33-7 and earned the East’s No. 1 seed at 56-26.