After much debate, the league will award the NBA’s Most Improved Player for 2012 to Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic. There were quite a few legitimate candidates for this award with the Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum included, but apparently Anderson tipped the scales in his favor after having a breakout season in Orlando.
In his four years in the league, Anderson was able to play his way into the starting lineup for the Magic and didn’t disappoint. Last season Anderson averaged 10.6 ppg and this season that improved to 16.1 ppg. Along with the points per game being a career-high, Anderson also recorded career-highs in rebounds with 7.7 and three-pointers made.
This year Anderson made a league-high 166 three-pointers and became the Magic’s biggest threat behind the arc. The 24-year-old forward shot 39.3% from three-point range and may have secured a long-term future in Orlando as one of the team’s best offensive threats.
Other candidates for the league’s Most Improved Player were DeMarcus Cousins, Jeremy Lin and Bynum. All three of these players were more than worthy of the award with breakout seasons of their own. Lin was considered to be the frontrunner after bursting on the scene for the New York Knicks, but after coming back to Earth and ultimately getting injured (left knee), Linsanity was no longer in serious contention.
The Knicks’ Tyson Chandler and Spurs’ Gregg Popovich were the two others that have also received NBA regular season awards thus far winning the Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Sportsmanship award as well. The NBA MVP and Sixth Man of the Year are yet to awarded.
It is a shame that Bynum couldn’t get more consideration for this award with such a vast improvement from last season. The Lakers All-Star center saw a huge boost in numbers across the board this season by going from 11.3 ppg to 18.7. As if that weren’t impressive enough from the up-and-comer, Bynum also improved in the rebound category with 11.8 rpg compared to 9.4 of last season.
Despite not being able to reel in the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, Bynum has already made a giant impact for the Lakers in the NBA playoffs with a historic triple-double and a 27-point performance. Instead of putting this award in his trophy case, Bynum might have to settle for a third NBA title as consolation.