Can Dejounte Murray win the Most Improved Player award? 

The 2021-22 #KiaMIP finalists - Darius Garland, Ja Morant, Dejounte Murray
The 2021-22 #KiaMIP finalists - Darius Garland, Ja Morant, Dejounte Murray
Joseph Praveen

The finalists for Most Improved Player are Dejounte Murray, Darius Garland and Ja Morant.

The award is given to players who have shown the most progress during the regular season. The NBA has clarified that the award is intended for up-and-coming players who have improved dramatically, not for players who have made a comeback.

Murray is a fifth-year guard for the San Antonio Spurs (missing one season with an ACL injury). Garland is a third-year guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And Morant, the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year from the Memphis Grizzlies, is also in his third season.

All three were All-Stars for the first time this season.

Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors
Jordan Poole of the Golden State Warriors

Third-year Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole had a career season but was not a finalist.

Morant helped Memphis to the second seed in the Western Conference. Garland averaged career highs in points, rebounds and assists. But how good has Murray been?

At the start of the season, oddsmaker "The Lines" predicted that the young San Antonio Spurs would only win 28.5 games.

That prediction was based on the moves the San Antonio front office made and the team's direction. During the offseason, the Spurs parted ways with veterans like DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills. They had been with the team since 2012, but the Spurs decided to rebuild with their young core.

First time all-star, Dejounte Murray
First time all-star, Dejounte Murray

It was left to Dejounte Murray, a 6-foot-4 point guard who averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game last season, to be the leader.

Fast forward to April 13, when the Spurs found themselves in the Nine-Ten Game of the play-in tournament. While they lost 113-103 on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, just reaching the play-in tournament was an achievement.

The Spurs finished 34-48 in the regular season, and most of their games against the league's top teams were close. Much of the success is thanks to Murray’s leadership and contribution in clutch time.

What do his numbers say?

Murray averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 9.2 assists and a league-leading 2.0 steals per game this season. He also surpassed David Robinson to become the Spurs' all-time leader in triple-doubles. He has 17, which is tied for 13th in NBA history.

Dejounte Murray joined Michael Jordan (1988-89) as the only players in NBA history to average 20+ PPG, 8+ RPG, 8+ APG and 2+ SPG in a season.

Murray led San Antonio in points, assists and steals and joined Michael Jordan as the only players to average at least 20 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals in a season.

The Spurs averaged 27.9 assists per game this season, with one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in NBA history (2.197). While Gregg Popovich’s team has always been low on turnovers, a lot of credit goes to the team’s on-court leader, Murray. He set discipline standards for a team whose average age was 25.3 entering the season. This was the youngest Spurs team in Popovich’s era.

The 2021-22 San Antonio Spurs just set the NBA all-time record for highest assist/turnover ratio in a season, at 2.197

No Spurs player has won the Most Improved Player award since Alvin Robertson, who was also the inaugural winner of the award in 1986. Can Murray be the second Spurs player to win it? He has definitely had one of his best seasons and the numbers that back his case.

live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Should Dejounte win this year's NBA Most Improved Player award?



Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein


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