To award Kevin Love with the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award is to ignore the fact that his numbers have not seen a dramatic change from last season to this one. It seems as though the media want to give him the award just because they cannot justify to themselves that he deserves any of the other awards. Kevin Love’s monumental season is merely the result of finally receiving the playing time that he deserves.
If one takes a quick glance at Love’s numbers from 2009-10 and 2010-11 it is easy to see that there is no great marked improvement. His Per 36 Minutes numbers, which are a good indication of a player’s performance, are virtually identical.
Per 36 Minutes:
Where he did see dramatic improvement was in his three-point shooting percentage and in his defensive rebounding percentage. In 2009-10 his defensive rebounding percentage was 28.6 percent. In 2010-11 it jumped to 34.2 percent which leads the entire league. However, his total rebounding percentage did not improve much from last season to this as it ticked up only 2.1 percent from 21.5 to 23.6, which is the top mark in the league as well.
Do not get us wrong, here at the Beef Love is one of our favorite players in the entire league. That said, we knew what was coming and what to expect out of him. The numbers have always been there so this season was not a shock in the least bit. (I wrote about his numbers in-depth back in September.) Because it was apparent that Love was going to excel with more minutes and because his numbers have not dramatically changed he cannot be considered the Most Improved Player. He has improved but not unexpectedly. The media should not give him this award just because they cannot justify giving him any votes for MVP.
Kris Humphries is probably the most famous player in the NBA in circles who could care less about basketball. Too bad for them that they are not privy to the best season in his career. Humphries is our pick for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. It is likely that he will get no votes from those who are part of the voting committee (the sports media) but he gets ours.
Where Love’s improvement was predictable and not overwhelming, Humphries burst out this season from near obscurity. Head Coach Avery Johnson gave him more minutes this season which accounts for his higher per game totals but Humphries dramatically improved his shooting efficiency and is ranked second in the league, behind Love, in both defensive rebounding percentage at 32.3 and total rebounding percentage which is 22.1.
Per 36 Minutes:
Last season, Humphries shot .441 percent from the field. In 2010-11 he increased that number to .527 percent, almost a nine percent increase. To go along with that his true shooting percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals, and free throw shooting) is a career high at .555 percent. Last season his true shooing percentage was .495.
Combine his drastically improved scoring efficiency with the fact that Humphries out-rebounds Dwight Howard in terms of potential rebounds to get while on the floor while ranking in the top eight in all rebounding categories and it is clear to see how good of a season he is having over last. He is doing it all with his usage percentage having dipped from 21 percent last season to 17.3 in 2010-11. A player usually does not experience the increased success that Humphries has when being used less on each possession. That much is shown when one looks at his Per 36 Minutes numbers. Since last season, his scoring has dropped from 14.4 points per 36 minutes to 12.9. However, Humphries is taking almost two less shots per 36 minutes so the decrease is understandable.
It is pretty apparent why Humphries numbers have seen a dramatic increase: the Kardashian Effect. Yes, Kris Humphries is dating Kim Kardashian and we all know the effect that she has on athletes. Once they start dating her they have nothing but luck and prosperity come their way. It is more than that though. Humphries got a chance to prove himself this season and with extra minutes he showed that he can become one of the top rebounders in the league. Last season he did not crack the top 20 in any rebounding category. This year, along with his second ranked defensive and total rebound percentage, he ranks eighth in defensive rebounds, seventh in total rebounds, fifth in rebounds per game, and fifth in offensive rebound percentage. Improvement such as this should be rewarded and that is why he is our Most Improved Player.