OrlandoMagic.com's Josh Cohen ranks his Most Improved Player Award candidates so far in the 2019-20 season. Click through this slideshow for full analysis and rankings.
Note: The contents of this gallery have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic and do not reflect the opinions of the Magic’s Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.
Honorable Mentions: Luka Doncic/Trae Young
It’s up for debate whether Doncic, also an MVP candidate, should be included on this list. He was last year’s Rookie of the Year and was expected, although not quite at the level that he has, to make a major jump in his second year. Depending on each voter’s criteria for MIP candidates, some will have the Mavs’ 6-foot-7, do-everything floor general as a potential leading candidate for this particular honor. Third and fourth-year players are most frequently the ones recognized for this award – or second-year players that came out of nowhere to have a breakout season. You have to go all the way back to the 1993-94 season to find the last time a first round draft pick captured the Most Improved Player Award in their second season. That year Don MacLean, then playing for the Washington Bullets, won the prize.
The same applies for Young, last year’s runner-up for the Rookie of the Year Award. Like Doncic, Atlanta’s rising star is having an unbelievable season and has significantly improved from a year ago. Doncic’s scoring average is up eight points from last year, while Young’s has increased by 10 points so far.
One exception among 2018 first round draft picks, based on the fact that he was traded over the summer and was decent but not outstanding in his first year, could be OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who will be highlighted later in the slideshow.