Yeah, this post is a little late, but it took a while for my blood temperature to get back to normal after it boiled over when I learned Paul George, and not Kemba Walker, had won the NBA’s most improved player award.
There’s really only one point I have to make to prove that Walker improved more, but I’ll list several others to drive this fact far into your skull.
For one, George and Walker got better at an equal rate in almost every statistical category this year. George went from 12.1 to 17.4 points per game. Walker made a jump from 12.1 to 17.7. George went from 2.4 to 4.1 assists per game. Walker jumped from 4.4 to 5.7. George’s rebounds per game went from 4.8 to 6.5. Walker’s didn’t go anywhere (3.5 to 3.5).
Walker’s shooting percentage went from 36 to 42 percent, while George’s got worse, falling from 44 to 41 percent. Walker also became a better three-point shooter this year, making the jump from 30 to 32 percent. George got worse at three-point shooting falling from 39 to 36 percent.
George required a significantly larger number of plays to improve his game than Walker; The Pacer’s usage rate (estimate of percentage of team plays used by a player while on the floor) jumped from 19 to 23 percent this season. Walkers stayed steady at 25. George’s offensive rating fell, while Walker’s got better. But, Walker’s defensive rating stayed the same, while George’s plummeted (that’s good for a D rating).
Now that you know all of that, here’s the one thing you really need to know to figure out why Walker should’ve been picked over George: Walker’s PER (a measure of per minute production) went from 15 to 19. George’s? Just 16.5 to 16.8.
So the per game stats got better for each player in a similar way, as did their advanced statistics. Walker’s per minute production significantly improved, though, while George’s didn’t get any better.
If that’s the case, who’s really “most improved” this season?