Tuesday, May 21, 2024

One HOF’er Endorsing Coby White As League’s Most Improved Player

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During last night’s slate of first-round NBA Playoff action, the TNT crew was given the finalists for the regular season awards. The top three for each honor were named, including the league’s Clutch Player of the Year award, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Rookie of the Year, the Coach of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Most Valuable Player award, and the Most Improved Player. Coby White was named alongside Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey and Houston’s Alperen Sengun as the three nominees for the NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award. According to most sportsbooks, Maxey is the runaway favorite to bring home the award, but the first indication of what the voters think proves that White still stands a chance of taking the honor.

Ernie Johnson Has Voted For Coby White

The leader of the TNT operation, Ernie Johnson, leaked some of his ballot selections amid announcing each award’s finalists. When detailing his selections for the NBA’s Most Improved Player trophy, Coby White was first, followed by Tyrese Maxey and Alperen Sengun. While many may have Maxey as the clear favorite due to his first All-Star selection and showing the potential to be a star in the league, his numbers weren’t as dramatic an uptick as White’s.

Coby White’s averages increased across the board, but the more impressive part that the other two candidates cannot claim is that his efficiency also improved. Fresh off an offseason extension on what is now considered one of the team-friendliest deals leaguewide, White was thrown into a heavy on-ball workload without his backcourt mate Zach LaVine for much of the season and rose to the occasion. Although this award is a regular season recognition, he also put the world on notice with a career-best 42-point outing in Chicago’s first Play-In Tournament game versus the Atlanta Hawks.

Carrying The Burden All Season Long

While most voters and sportsbooks may stand firmly in Maxey’s camp for this award, White has the pedigree and statistics to earn the nod. If this nomination indeed awards the player who has shown the most improvement from a season ago, as implied, the former North Carolina guard has done that more than any other player. His points per game increase was the largest amongst qualified players, and his rebounds plus assists were more of an increase than either Maxey or Sengun. He’s the lone nominee who increased his field goal and three-point shooting percentages while taking the most significant increase in volume. Lastly, he played nine more games than Maxey and 16 more than the Rockets’ forward.

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Most Improved Player – Chicago Bulls Edition

If White were to earn the hardware, he’d be the second in franchise history. Jimmy Butler was awarded the league’s Most Improved Player in 2015 and has become a consensus top-15 player in the NBA. If White’s ascension continues on the current trajectory, All-Star nominations will be soon, and the Bulls will have found their point guard for the future. Chicago’s faithful also know too well last year’s award winner, Lauri Markkanen, who was traded from the Bulls a few years before becoming the league’s best breakout player last season.

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