Column: NBA’s most improved so far

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Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox, left, blocks a shot attempt by Orlando Magic’s D.J. Augustin (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

One thing I love seeing every year as an NBA fan is which players have improved most from the year before. This has been an interesting year so far with a lot of hot competition for the Most Improved Player award. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some of the players that have gotten off to hot starts, even if one of them so happens to play for my rival Nets. These are my top-five most-improved players. 

Do you Trust the Process? 

Philadelphia 76ers man in the middle, Joel Embiid, is off to a bruising start, loudly averaging 28.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 blocks per game. He’s third in the league in points per game, sixth in rebounds, fifth in blocks and first in real estate owned in Andre Drummond’s head. Embiid is surpassing all expectations put on him so far this year, has carried the Sixers (even though they have a slightly disappointing 6-5 record) and is a fun player on and off the court. Oh, he’s also my frontrunner for Most Improved. 

NYC Youth Movements 

After recent years of misery, New York and Brooklyn are seemingly finding the path to salvation through an interesting crop of young players led by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Caris Levert. At 6’6 with a 6’10 wingspan, LeVert is a versatile player on both sides of the ball. His gargantuan wingspan allows him to defend multiple positions alongside the playmaking ability to set up his teammates and get buckets himself. He’s done plenty of the latter with 20 points per game through ten games. Meanwhile, the Knicks primary bucket-getter, Tim Hardaway Jr., has been torching twine to the tune of 23.3 points per game while shooting 40.2 percent from three-point territory on 8.7 attempts. THJ is 26 years old and showing a lot of improvement from the last campaign, not only scoring more but looking like a player that understands the game. There’s a lot of hope for all New York fans these days. 

Turn up the Heat JRich! 

At 20.8 points per game, Josh Richardson is 22nd in the league in scoring. Last year, he was the 79th highest scorer in the NBA. What a jump for the 25-year-old who is already a premier defender and three-point shooter. Watch out for Richardson as a Most Improved candidate, especially if he switches places with Jimmy Butler and provides much needed shooting for the Timberwolves. 

Sophomore Savior 

De’Aaron Fox’s sophomore season is looking like a revelation for himself and the Sacramento Kings. His numbers are up nearly across the board and his 18.6 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game are a huge improvement from last year. The Kings, routinely projected to be bottom of the barrel in the west, currently sit at sixth in the conference. Much of that is thanks to their sparky upstart point guard.


Zac Lane is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at zac.lane@uconn.edu.

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