One of my favorite awards during the NBA season is the Most Improved Player (MIP) award. It’s an award that acknowledges a player’s determination on improving their skill set and it’s evident through their production line and in-game movements.
MIP can be subjective and here are my personal guidelines: Players must have at least three seasons under their belt, rookies seasons aren’t an end-all if said player exhibited phenomenal growth that year, and stats will be adjusted if player went from bench to starter role and vice versa.
Those are the gist of my guidelines and my first MIP candidate is none other than Jrue Holiday.
In an offense, that doesn’t have a variety of go-to scorers, Holiday has emerged as a facilitator and that go-to scorer for Philadelphia. Not only is he becoming one of the better scorers for Philadelphia, but he’s also been effective in the clutch; with Jrue Holiday on the floor in late game situations, the Sixers have went 8-4.
When it was announced Andrew Bynum wouldn’t start for Philly for some time, it was believed the team would be amounting loss after loss; incidentally, Holiday would prove many wrong as he has piggybacked the offense and led Philly in multiple games. He has the ability to switch speeds and it’s not as if it has come at the expense of his locked-down defense. His defense is as pliable as ever thanks to his size and length that helps defend bigger guards and his ability to switch speeds, as aforementioned, to beat speedy guards like Ty Lawson.
He’s having a career season with his 18.4 points per game on 45.1% FG, 8.3 assists, 1.6 steals per game through 22 games this season.
Jrue Holiday is also one of three-point guards that are top 20 in scoring and top 10 in assists — Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker are the other two — and this is demonstrative how he can be aggressive on the offense, but can always step back and incorporate his teammates.
If you’re a fan of comparing players Per 36 minutes more games ( a personal favorite of mine) here’s Holiday’s per 36 minute numbers over the years:
- 2009-10: 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 3.2 turnovers.
- 2010-11: 14.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.7 turnovers.
- 2011-12: 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 2.2 turnovers.
- 2012-13: 17.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 8.3 assists, 1.4 steals, 3.6 turnovers.
Outside of his increased turnovers — which are bound to regress as the season progresses — Holiday has improved, especially over last season, in the two heavy hitting statistical categories of points and assists.
Jrue Holiday, for all intents and purposes, is one of the front-runners for the MIP award if his trajectory stays on the uphill and doesn’t deflect.