I'm not surprised that the Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler was awarded the NBA's Most Improved Player award this season. The All-Star played about the same number of minutes (38.7 last season and 38.7 this season), while upping his PPG from 13.1 to 20.0, his RPG from 4.9 to 5.8, and his APG from 2.6 to 3.3. Most noticeably he worked on his shot, and while he was sub .397 last season finished this season shooting .462 FG%; he also brought his three point shooting from .283 to .378 this season.. He made improvements, played in one of the biggest media markets in the world, on a team with big stars that won a lot of games and are in the playoffs. Some of those stars were hurt, and Butler really stepped up. I agree with all of that. And I get why he won. He deserved it, by some of the most obvious metrics -- points. And often this is a league that looks mostly at just that.
I also get why Draymond Green came in second in the voting this year. He's one of the major reasons why the Golden State Warriors are the Top Team in the league. The MSU product nearly played +10 MPG from last season to this one, and responded with upping his PPG from 11.7 to 6.2, his RPG from 5.0 to 8.2, and his APG from 1.9 to 3.7. He was a defensive player who was also a stretch big, knocking down 111 threes for the dubs. He got a lot of votes, and also plays for a very visible franchise in a huge media market that was on TV a lot.
One guy who didn't have all of those things was Rudy Gobert, the man who was voted third. Rudy started this season coming off the bench, the guys ahead of him did not. He worked his way into the starting line-up, and helped his team win games. That's commendable, especially since the Jazz do not have a handful of star players to rely upon. He transformed the defensive identity of this club and became such a massive force that other teams fell beneath the Jazz #playoffpush juggernaut and the team that was supposed to finish last in the West (by some professionals) ended up almost making the playoffs. Rudy wasn't the only reason for that but he was a significant reason.
Full Voting Results:
|Voting||NET CHANGE 2013-14 to 2014-15|
No where else gives you the Net value for each main stat, but you guys deserve it. Rudy didn't have the largest overall statistical improvement, but his actual on the court "eyeball test" really puts his talents at the forefront. As stated elsewhere, he was noticed by a lot of people this year. And Rudy got votes from a number of important people:
- 1st Place Votes: Aaron Falk (SLTRIB), Antonio Harvey (Fox Sports Radio), Bob Rathbun (Fox Sports South), Chris Haynes (Northeast Ohio Media Group), Dave McMenamin (ESPN.com), David Aldridge (TNT), Gary Washburn (Boston Globe), Mark Followill (Fox Sports Net), Mike Rice (Comcast Sports Net), Ron Boone (ROOT Sports), Vince Ellis (Detroit Free Press), Zach Lowe (Grantland)
- 2nd Place Votes: Bill Land (Fox Sports Southwest), Bill Oram (Orange County Register), Bill Simmons (Grandland), Bill Wennington (WMVP AM 1000 - Chicago), Brian Davis (Fox Sports Oklahoma), Charles Gardner (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Chris Dempsey (Denver Post), Chris Mannix (Sports Illustrated), Chris Sheridan (Sheridan Hoops), Craig Ackerman (Sportstalk 790 AM), David Steele (Fox Sports Florida), Eddie Sefko (Dallas Morning News), Glenn Consor (106.7 The Fan), Howard Beck (Bleacher Report), Jeff McDonald (San Antonio Express-News), Jeff Zillgitt (USA Today), Jim Barnett (Comcast SportsNet Bay Area), Jim Peterson (Fox Sports North), Jody Genessy (Deseret News), Joe Freeman (The Oregonian), Kevin Arnovitz (ESPN.com, who gave Derrick Favors a 3rd place vote), Kevin Calabro (ESPN Radio), Kevin Ding (Bleacher Report), Lang Whitaker (NBA.com), Michael Wilbon (ESPN), Mike Breen (ABC Sports), Mine Monroe (San Antonio Express-News), Paul Coro (Arizona Republic), Peter Botte (New York Daily News), Sherrod Blakley (Comcast SportsNet), Steve Aschburner (NBA.com), Tom Heinsohn (Comcast SportsNet, who gave Jae Crowder a 1st place vote)
- 3rd Place Votes: Alan Horton (WCCO 830 AM), Bill Reiter (FoxSports.com), Bill Schoening (WOAI Radio), Chris Marlowe (Altitude Sports), Chuck Cooperstein (ESPN 103.3), David Mayo (MLive Media Group), Dei Lynam (Comcast SportsNet), Doris Burke (ESPN), Eric Hasseltine (92.9 FM ESPN / 680 AM), Ethan Skolnick (Bleacher Report), Fan Blinebury (NBA.com), Grant Napear (Comcast SportsNet California), Hubie Brown (ESPN), Jason Jones (Sacramento Bee), Jerry Zgoda (Minneapolis Star Tribune), Jim Paschke (Fox Sports Wisconsin), Joel Meyers (Fox Sports New Orleans), John Denton (OrlandoMagic.com), John Reid (New Orleans Times Picayune), Jonathan Feigan (Houston Chronicle), Ken Berger (CBSSports.com), Marc Spears (Yahoo! Sports), Marv Albert (TNT), Matt Delvin (SportsNet / TSN), Matt Pinto (WWLS / 98.1), Matt Winer (NBA TV), Mike Tirico (ESPN), Pete Pranica (Fox Sports Tennessee), Rich Bonnell (Charlotte Observer), Rusty Simmons (San Francisco Chronicle), Scott Lauer (WFNZ-610 AM), Steve Buckhantz (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic), Tim Capstraw (WFAN 660)
Now looking at that list, it would have been faster to just list the people who didn't fall in love with Rudy's game play last season. (The only real people who didn't vote him Top three who matter are Brian Windhorst, Chris Broussard, Doug Smith, Eddie Johnson, Ernie Johnson, Frank Isola, J.A. Adande, and Marc Stein.) It's also cool to see Favors and Hayward get votes too. You can check out the full voting results here.
Rudy is just awesome, and Diana said it best:
Congrats Rudy on your 3rd place finish in MIP. In my book you're #1. pic.twitter.com/tTAYJZfXLQ— Diana (@dianaallen) May 7, 2015