Examining NBA’s Most Improved candidates

Pacers star Victor Oladipo was named one of the league's top defenders Wednesday.

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo is most likely the frontrunner for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, but he does have some competition.

Oladipo was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder (along with big man Domantas Sabonis) to the Pacers as part of the Paul George deal, and most insiders felt the Pacers got too little in return at the time.

But the Pacers are even better than last season and Oladipo is having a season similar to George, perhaps even better. If MIP were picked today, Oladipo could win it without complaint from outside sources.

But this seems to be the season of players making big leaps, and Sporting News ran down some other options. They are:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie. The Nets guard has become a force on the court and continued to be one in social media.
  • Andre Drummond. He’s even making free throws this season for the Pistons, and that alone speaks volumes for the wide-bodied center.
  • DeMar DeRozan. He was already pretty good, but the Raptors are in first and DeRozan is better than ever.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s hard to think of the Bucks do-it-all forward as league MIP, especially when everyone thinks he’ll someday be league MVP. But he too is better than ever.
  • Clint Capela. The Rockets are humming and Capela’s defense has made them a legitimate contender.
  • Steven Adams. While most everyone talks about all the other big names on the Thunder roster, Adams is having a career year in the middle.

Sporting News also listed several other candidates:

Bradley Beal (Wizards), Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), Aaron Gordon (Magic), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Josh Richardson (Heat), Gary Harris (Nuggets), Joe Ingles (Jazz), Dario Saric (76ers) and Brandon Ingram (Lakers).