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Most Improved ‘American’ Player

June 26, 2012


Now that the NBA Finals are over, I can finally get something of of my chest.

Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic won the 2012 Most Improved Player Award this year, ahead of Nikola Pekovic (Timberwolves) and Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks).

It begs the question, is there an American biased among coaches who voted for this honor? Lets take a look at the stats.


Ryan Anderson:  2011 – 10.6 pts 5.5 rebs  2012 -  16.1 pts 7.7 rebs

Started 61 of 61 games (14 of 64 the year before).  Minutes also went up by 10 (22-32).

Ryan didn’t really add anything to his game in 2012. He’s still a very one-dimensional player. He just got more three-pointers up thanks to Dwight Howard. It’s the style of play made his stats look so good. He got the minutes because Big Baby wasn’t a good fit next to Howard. Ryan got more minutes, his shooting stroke was the same and his other attributes went unchanged.

Nikola Pekovic:   2011 – 5.5 pts  &  3.0 rebs    2012 –   13.9 pts  7.4 rebs.

Started 25 of 47  (11 of 65 the year before)     26 mpg (minutes doubled from ’11)

‘Pek’ saw a lot of garbage time early in 2012, which killed averages. But, when he did get in there, he allowed Kevin Love to change his game…shooting more 3′s and using his face-up game. The improvement of Nikola may just age 5 years to Kevin’s career in the form of less of a pounding on his body. {Down in Orlando, Dwight suffered a herniated disc despite the “hot shooting” of Anderson.}

Ersan Ilyasova:   2011 -  9.5 pts   6.1 rebs   2012 -  13.0 pts  8.8 rebs

Started 34 of 60 in 2011,  41 of 60 in 2012     Ersan played pretty much the same amount of minutes (in the mid 20′s/game). He just had a torrid stretch from March to April. He was starting for Scott Skiles and playing huge with the absence of Andrew Bogut.


In summary…..Nikola Pekovic didn’t play the first 6 games of the season. He then played the next 2, playing only two minutes each night, totalling 0 points and 2 boards…garbage time. He then didn’t play the next 3 at all. Rick Adelman thought his game was too redundant next to Kevin Love’s. That’s what made Pek’s run so impressive, grabbing over 10 boards a night despite playing next to the league’s leading rebounder…wow. That’s when his run started….first 17 minutes, then 24 minutes, then up in the 30′s for the rest of the season. A lingering leg injury hurt his stats the last month of the season and caused him to miss a couple of weeks of games.



Ryan Anderson played by default (Glen Davis wasn’t a good fit) and skill set (3-pt shooting to help space for Dwight). Nikola Pekovic and Ersan Ilyasova made their coaches play the despite early doubts.

The ‘Euro’ players earned their coach’s minutes….both American coaches.


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2 Responses to Most Improved ‘American’ Player

  1. Throwin' Skabos on July 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    ah, the usual unbiased opinion from you on nikola PEKOVIC…martin KNEZEVIC. LOL

  2. Mira on July 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Winning basketball is a fuiocntn of effectively using and creating possessions. However, many fans and analysts do not understand the importance of possession management and creating possessions, instead they reward players for the simple act of shooting the basketball, an act that has no value in and of itself. Then there are fans who use advanced metrics improperly and without context, as if statistics presented in a vacuum accurately measure a players performance. In stark contrast you present scoring stats, possessionary stats, and secondary stats (win shares), and by applying those stats in player comparisons you are able to gauge various facets of a players game in order to weigh each of those stats according to there impact on win production. The underlying premise of your analysis is not difficult to understand: in the course a basketball game, every player on both teams has the ability to simultaneously: (a) produce for his team; and (b) take actions that make it more difficult for the opponent players to produce for their teams, therefore a basketball player’s ability to produce wins for his team is a fuiocntn of his ability to efficiently manage possessions, create possessions (defense), and outproduce his opponents. Players like Chris Paul and LeBron excel at this, conversely players like Kobe and Carmelo do not. Kobe and Melo miss too many shots, don’t offset their inefficiency by creating possessions via steals and blocks, nor do they harass shooters, make passing more difficult, etc. for opposing teams. However, they get credit for their teammates’ high level play by scoring a lot of points (inefficiently), which masks the fact they are not that productive. Of course, this trick relies on the other players on the team being productive.

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