With the 2020-2021 NBA season reaching its halfway mark, basketball fans have witnessed plenty of action from a wide variety of players. While NBA veterans have been grinding hard to earn that MVP award, emerging stars are aiming for the Most Improved Player of the Year (MIPOY) 2021 award.
Every year we see a bunch of young players earning big names for themselves, riding on their rare skills and indomitable grit. That is what the Most Improved Player of the Year (MIPOY) award is all about. The players who've won the MIPOY award previously are Brandon Ingram, Pascal Siakam, Victor Oladipo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo - to name a few.
Now, as the 2020-2021 NBA season reaches the All-Star break, it's only fair to reassess the players who can bag the MIPOY award at the end of the season. Players who have stepped out of obscurity and into stardom as they meet the ever-rising demands of the NBA league.
Let's take a look at 5 such players who have increased their chances of winning the MIPOY 2021 after an eventful month of February.
NBA Most Improved Player of the Year (MIPOY) 2021 | Five players dominating the March Power Rankings
#5 - Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors)
MP - 23.3, PPG - 13.0, AST - 1.0, RPG - 6.5, Blocks - 2.0, FG% - 52.7%
Every once in a while, we see G-League players coming into the top tier to take the floor by storm. Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher is that guy. The 28-year-old named G-League’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.
Now with 23+ minutes per game for the Raptors and off the bench, Boucher has become one of the most reliable scorers and blockers for the team.
The 6-foot-9 is averaging 13 points per game, 6.4 more than he did last season while also guaranteeing two shots per game. Chris Boucher is eligible and deserving of both the awards, the Most Improved Player and the Sixth Man of the Year.
#4 - Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
MP - 38.8, PPG - 24.8, AST - 4.9, RPG - 5.5, Steals - 1.1, FG% - 49.8%
Being one of the Boston Celtics' two under-25 All-Star players, Jaylen Brown is showing promising growth. Compared to his last NBA season, Brown is averaging 4.5 more points while also dishing out 2.8 more assists per game this season.
With the limelight swinging back and forth between Jason Tatum and Kemba Walker, it's Jaylen Brown who has the highest 3-point accuracy among the three (38.9%).
Jaylen Brown's improvement arc has been on the rise since last year's NBA playoffs, and therefore he is our number 4 in the top five MIPOY award winning prospects for March 2021.
#3 Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
MP - 36.6, PPG - 23.1, AST - 5.5, RPG - 10.1, FG% - 48%
Things have been quite hard for New York Knicks fans over the last several years. The team usually booed on was last seen in the NBA playoffs in 2013. However, the 2020-2021 NBA season has been a pleasant surprise for the New Yorkers.
Reviving fans' hopes and the team's chances of reaching the playoffs is their best player, Julius Randle. The 26-year-old joined the Knicks in 2019, but has evolved into a leader in the current NBA season.
He has made huge progress in both rebounding and assists this season. His FG accuracy has improved from 46% last season to 48% this season. His 3-point accuracy has spiked from a lowly 28% to 41.2%.
Randle is really making the case for the NBA MIPOY 2021, as he leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists - proving that he is not his old self anymore.
#2 - Christian Wood (Houston Rockets)
MP - 31.2, PPG - 22.0, AST - 1.3, RPG - 10.2, FG% - 55.8%
James Harden leaving the Houston Rockets forced the team into making somewhat risky trades. One such case was Christian Wood signing a lengthy contract without having proven much in his career. However, the deal has paid off excellently.
With the 2020-2021 NBA about to hit mid-season, the 25-year-old center is already looking like one of the best bigs in the league.
Christian Wood has metamorphosised into a player that fits the top tier. He has drastically improved in almost every aspect of the performance spectrum. Since averaging 13.1 points per game, he has stepped up to 22.0 this season.
His rebounds have gone up from 6.3 to 19 this season. On top of that, the 6-feet-9, 216-pounder is also shooting from beyond the arc with 42.1% accuracy.
With 1.5 blocks per game and the highest Player Efficiency Rating, he is currently outshining everyone on the Rockets' roster.
#1 - Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons)
MP - 36.2, PPG - 23.4, REB - 5.3, AST - 2.9, Blocks -1.1, FG% - 43.3%
Jerami Grant joined the Detroit Pistons from Denver just a couple of months ago, in late December last year. Anyone who says they predicted Grant to score 20+ points in the 2020-2021 NBA season is lying. The forward's evolution has been heart-warming to watch this season.
Grant has led the team in scoring this season with 23.4 points per game, doubling his efficiency from last season's 12 points. He has taken up the role of a leader, which is evident from several of his 30-point performances since the start of the season.
Stepping into the role of being the best player on an NBA roster, he’s proven worthy. Jerami Grant has improved holistically, getting almost 2 more rebounds, serving more dimes and becoming a better free-throw shooter compared to last season.
While all the players on this list are deserving of the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Season 2021, Jerami Grant tops the list with odds way higher than the others.