NBA Award Watch: 2021 Most Improved Player

The 2020-21 NBA season is roughly a quarter of the way through as we enter February. At this point in the season, there have been quite a few players that have made incredible leaps this season in their production.

Last season, Brandon Ingram won the NBA Most Improved Player Award with his breakout year. Now, a new set of players will have the opportinty to win the award with the improvements they’ve shown from last season.

At the quarter mark of the 2020-21 season, we broke down our top five Most Improved Player candidates.

Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors)

2019-20 Stats: 6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 BPG, .322 3P%

2020-21 Stats: 13.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.0 BPG, .432 3P%

Boucher will be in consideration for both NBA Sixth Man of the Year as well as Most Improved Player. Although he was solid over the first few years of his career, he’s made an enormous jump off the bench this season. 

Boucher has done it all for the Raptors this season, giving them a scoring punch off the bench, while also being the team’s second-best rebounder. Even at the forward position, his three-point shooting has been excellent during his early 2020-21 campaign. 

Jeremi Grant (Detroit Pistons)

2019-20 Stats: 12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.2 APG, .750 FT%

2020-21 Stats: 23.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, .866 FT%

Grant’s evolution has been so fun to watch over the last few years, but especially so this season. Stepping into the role of being the best player on an NBA roster, he’s proven worthy. 

After earning a huge payday this summer, Grant has doubled his production in quite a few categories. In just one offseason, he’s completely changed the trajectory of his career. 

Julius Randle (New York Knicks)

2019-20 Stats: 19.5 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, .277 3P%

2020-21 Stats: 22.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 6.0 APG, .375 3P%

The Knicks have been a pleasant surprise this season, showing how competitive they can be and proving they could make a run at the playoffs. Their best player thus far has been Randle, who has made a huge jump in both rebounding and assists this season. 

To make things even better, he’s looked like a different player when it comes to three-point shooting. This has completely opened up the rest of his game, as well as New York’s offense. 

Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers)

2019-20 Stats: 20.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, .472 FG%, .380 3P%

2020-21 Stats: 24.0 PPG, 4.1 APG, .504 FG%, 431 3P%

Sexton’s improvement this season has shown both on the stat sheet as well as the eye test. He’s had some incredible performances this season, including a 42-point performance where he scored 20 straight for the Cavs to beat the Nets. 

Additionally, he’s looked like a leader that Cleveland can lean on going forward. Sexton has emerged as an absolute star this season. 

Christian Wood (Houston Rockets)

2019-20 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 0.9 3PM

2020-21 Stats: 23.6 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 1.8 3PM

The Rockets took somewhat of a gamble on Wood this summer, signing him to a large contract even with a limited sample size of high-level play in his career. It’s paid off tremendously, as he’s looked like one of the best bigs in the league this season. 

In nearly every statistical category, Wood has blown away his numbers from last season. When it comes to stacking up against his teammates, he leads everyone in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.