NBA’s Most Improved Player Watch

Story posted January 25, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Daniel Maiorana

The NBA season has approached its halfway point and many basketball analysts have begun to talk about the midseason awards. For Most Improved Player, Desmond Bane, Miles Bridges and Darius Garland have all been brought up in the conversations.

Ja Morant, even though many know how great he’s been in his short career, has also shown tremendous strides this season. Morant is the favorite to win the award, even though it is atypical for a star of his nature to take home this award rather than the MVP.

Morant and his teammate Bane have both shown major improvements from last season. Some argue Morant is of too high of a status, making Bane more of a favorite. Bane has made a name for himself behind-the-arc, shooting 42% on the year.

Let’s dive into this years’ candidates for Most Improved Player.

Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

Another player who has jumped in the discussion is Darius Garland. Amidst a breakout season, Garland is averaging 19.7 points-per-game while shooting 91.3% at the free-throw line. A solid piece of this Cavaliers roster, Garland may even find a spot in the All-Star game in his team’s city.

He has been on a double-double tear as of late, proving the consistency he has brought to the floor helping Cleveland to the No. 5 spot in the East.

Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs

Murray, who has improved his scoring and play-making ability tremendously this year, is giving the San Antonio Spurs lots of hope for their future. Averaging 19.3 points-per-game versus a career 11.4, Murray is making people think where did this guy come from?

He is getting much more playing time under Gregg Popovich, and he is making every second pay off. A floor general who is one of the league’s best all-around players, analysts must give him the respect he deserves in the Most Improved Player conversation.

Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets

Another player who is rapidly improving his level of play is Miles Bridges. Dropping a recent career-high 38 points against the New York Knicks, Bridges has now proved that he is more than just a flashy dunker.

Winning seven of their last nine games, the Hornets have seen great play from the likes of Bridges as well as Terry Rozier. If Bridges keeps up what he’s got going on now, Charlotte can make a push in the second half of the season for a higher seed in the playoffs.

Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies

Morant has been the No. 1 favorite for the award, putting up MVP numbers as well as taking tremendous leaps from last season. Commanding the Grizzlies to the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference, Morant is averaging 25.3 points-per-game to go along with seven assists.

Falling to the Utah Jazz in last years’ playoffs as the No. 8 seed, the Grizzlies look to continue their dominance in the Western Conference and make a playoff run.

The Grizzlies’ star has shined when it matters most, dropping 25 points in his last game against the Chicago Bulls and also putting up 33 points against the Milwaukee Bucks. Morant must keep adding to his highlight tape if he wants to remain the favorite for the award thanks to the other candidates all continuing to play exceptionally well.

Bane, another member of the Memphis Grizzlies who has stepped up in the right direction, has doubled his numbers in about every major statistic. Averaging 17.7 points this year versus 9.2 last year, the 2020-21 All-Rookie member is blossoming into the league just fine.

This year’s Most Improved Player race has been one of the most highly anticipated in recent history. Will it be an up-and-coming player, or a league established star?


Daniel Maiorana is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email dkm5903@psu.edu.