Improved Players from last season to this season (in the NBA)

Keys to evaluation:

  • It can be perpetually on both ends of the floor which is ideal but growth on either end of the court is fine too
  • Material growth of their game (so part qualitative and all naturally quantitative as well) based from last year to now

The List

Malcolm Brogdon – the trade from Mil. to Indy – has improved how Pacers have played overall. He has changed how he has played… Offensive responsibilities have increased HOB has gone up… ISO and Drives have gone up, creating opportunities for everyone he plays with… Shooting eff. has dropped a bit but when creating so much for others equals out.

Pascal Siakam – Scoring has spiked, eff. has gone down due to USG, added off the dribble, added pull up; gives him more moves to go to. Defense is such a big component. With offense, more in the front end of his improvement scala. Defense has been a struggle.

Devin Booker – Improved overall… scoring eff. has gone up. Off the ball moves have been going great for him. Shot setup is getting better. Where is his defense though? He is a star.

Royce O’Neale – CAS improved and has been getting more looks. Is he a better 3andD player from last year (still to be figured out). He is strong and gets up into ball handlers because of it. Last season he was not even in the top 200 players vs. now he is in the top 60 players.

O.G. Anunoby – Defensively has been such a deep bench player which has been a very good add on… Coach Nurse has been trusting him offensively more too. Closing out shooters has been a major upside as a 3andD player.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – From last season to this season has doubled playtime and off. Eff. in production has therefore gone up. Higher USG role within the system at OKC. +2FTA per 75 possessions. The Three guard rotation at OKC has been beneficial in his improvement. He adds pressure with his size and the step back and pull-ups are getting better.

Devonte Graham – while we covered a part of his video breakdown which can be seen here: Devonte Graham highlights. His overall role and improvement with Charlotte have come from him understanding what the team needs of him and how much he has been able to deliver in the play-time he has been getting. His offensive responsibilities have improved. Don’t forget he is YOUNG too. +8 point per 75 possession increase, 8% relative true shooting based on league averages. Improved 11% on three-point shooting, thoughtful decisions but he does not get to the rim, his mid-range game is not there yet. Off the ball, he is limited for now. He Can pass the ball well overall though.

Jaylen Brown – From last year on he has been improving. His first step has been getting quicker let’s reiterate not faster but quicker. His mid-range is improving since the FIBA games this summer. His three-point shooting has gone up 4%. Offensively he is getting his mechanics is getting better that is clear. Defensively on and off the ball he is smart, he can deter his opponent the way he usually wants to and offensively he is also now clearly training smart overall too.

Brandon Ingram – Like Siakam on this list, Ingram will sneak into many most improved player votes by GMs and league executives. His wingspan vs. his deterrence value is high but overall, it’s important to notice that he has improved more on offense moving without the ball, making smarter decisions with shot selection and with CAS (Catch and Shoot) opportunities and CAD (Catch and Drive) cases as well. As a part of the NOLA Pelicans, the way the team uses him is mismatching classical Power-Forwards and have Ingram use his speed to break them down. While in the past he used to be matched with guards more regularly where his strengths were less noticeable. By far out of all the names on this list Ingram has had the biggest jump in terms of shooting numbers compared to last season (up 18% in terms of FT shooting – he is currently at 86% – 87% overall; His three-point shooting has increased +7% compared to last season too.

Trae Young – Not a well versed defensive player but that range makes him deadly beyond imagination. He can set plays up we have seen this, he can be an instinctive floor leader and can get to the rim to finish. This gives him the qualitative thumbs up in terms of the improvement scale he has been climbing. +8 points per 75 possession of a scoring increase for this rookie of last year all the while improving his efficiency by 5% (based on True Shooting %). It might seem inflated but consider that during his rookie season it took him two months to gather himself up. The offensive load that Young carries is a variant that makes him a larger threat than he is. Let’s all agree that is he would have a bit better scoring options to feed around him, there is no doubt that he could have increased assists and better results in terms of the Win/Loss column for his team.

Bam Adebayo – Defensively this player has always been solid but offensively the jump he has gone through since the beginning of the year. He has been getting to the foul line +2 times more per 75 possessions in comparison to last year. Transition passing has been a strong improvement and creating his own shots (with confidence has been also good). All small bits and pieces but they amount to the whole package improving.

Luka Doncic – We need to accept that like Trae Young he is defensively still gathering himself, even as an incoming MVP of the Euroleague, defensively he never has been fast or threatening. Offensively he has been dropping bombs. +8,4 points per 75 possessions which is the highest on the entire list. His playmaking is veteran-like and he plays at his own pace like a seasoned player coming into his second year. Honestly once defensively he becomes more aware of reading offenses and can get in-between offenses to steal the ball or even deter it, he will be among the elite players of the league (even though he is selected an All-Star, please let us keep it realistic that the entertainment value is a different matter than the on-court critique).

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