Earlier this morning, news broke that the Orlando Magic would be making a “major announcement” this afternoon. They’ve had such a weird season that us here in the TBJ offices legitimately considered the possibility that the Magic had fired Stan Van Gundy in the middle of a playoff series or found a way to move Dwight Howard after the trade deadline. It’s been a weird year.
However, as it turns out, the major announcement is just to tell everyone that Ryan Anderson is this season’s Most Improved Player. And really, I think that pretty well sums up this award. Ryan Anderson won Most Improved? Really?
To put things in perspective, not only did Ryan Anderson not make our final ballot for Most Improved Player, he didn’t even make our covert Google Documents short list. It’s not that wasn’t good this year — he definitely was, becoming an All-Star for the first time and one of just 37 players in the league with a PER greater than 20 — it’s just that he didn’t improve the most, which is literally the name of the award. A Wolf Among Wolves nailed it:
Ryan Anderson has won MIP because he played more minutes and took more shots this season on a playoff team. That’s it. [...] Ryan Anderson was exactly as good last year as he was this year, except this year he had a different role on the team.
That role? Shoot more threes because you’re really good at shooting. In three less games than last season, Anderson shot 81 more threes, knocking them in at the exact same 39.3 percent clip. Thanks to 10 extra minutes a game, his per game scoring average rose six points and his per game rebounds average rose by two boards. That looks like a huge improvement, but when you consider his per 36 minutes stats show an increase of 0.2 points and a 0.4 rebounds decrease, it’s pretty obvious that his bigger numbers this year are thanks to the extra playing time.
This is a Best Player Whose Numbers Went Up award, not a Most Improved Player award. Ryan Anderson had a wonderful season and his normal box score numbers definitely went up. This is why he won the trophy, even though Ersan Ilyasova and Nikola Pekovic would have been far better choices.
No one really cares about this award, which is exactly why Andrew Bogut got a first place vote even though he played 12 games this year. Ryan Anderson is this year’s 2011-12 Most Improved Player. Congratulations to him and at least Jeremy Lin didn’t win for playing 35 games. So it goes.