NBA Most Improved Player: 3 leading contenders to be named the NBA's MIP
- D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle are among the most deserving candidates for the Most Improved Player award.
As we approach the end of the NBA regular season, all eyes are on the MVP race. Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are the two leading contenders to take home the 2019 award, although the NBA will also recognize a number of other players -- including the individual who has shown the most improvement over the last 12 months.
Last year's MIP award went to the Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo, and notable recent winners include the Greek Freak, Jimmy Butler, and Paul George. Evidently, this year's winner will be in good company and the award is likely to not only go to the most improved -- but also one of the season's most impressive players.
So, as we near the conclusion of the 18/19 season, here are three players that have a shot at being named the 2019 Kia Most Improved Player.
#3 Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic entered the 18/19 season with a huge cloud over his future in Orlando. During the 2018 offseason, the Magic drafted the exciting Mo Bamba, and the young center was expected to slot straight into the team's starting lineup.
This left many to speculate that Vucevic would be traded, however, the Montenegrin remained in Orlando, and he has since established himself as one of the East's best players.
So far this season, Vucevic is averaging career highs in both points (20.7) and rebounds (12.0), and he has also developed into a credible threat from beyond the arc (36%). His form was enough to draw interest from the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the February trade deadline and also yielded a first All-Star appearance.
Vucevic's 60 double-doubles have also ensured that the Magic will compete in the postseason for the first time since 2012, capping a remarkable season for the 28-year-old.