Feb 27, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) holds the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Honorable Mention: Raymond Felton, Anthony Bennett (yes)
The Not-Fake Honorable Mention: Anthony Davis, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic
My top three:
3. Isaiah Thomas
Feb 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers guard Kendall Marshall (12) at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
I was hesitant to pick Isaiah Thomas because of his team’s lousy record, but when Kevin Love won MIP, his team was only 17-65.
This little man is truly impressive; if you haven’t watched him play, then you are missing out. He is fourth among point guards in his PER at 21.31, which is a huge jump from 15th last year with a 17.58 PER.
The departure of Greivis Vasquez gave Thomas a boost in his minutes, which has really shown when looking at his season averages. He is pouring in 21.4 points per game and dishing out 6.4 assists, which is quite an increase from his last year averages of 13.9 and 4.0.
He has really improved his shooting, as well, with a 45 percent field-goal percentage and 37 percentage from deep.
You may have to crown this King as the 2013-2014 Most Improved Player.
2. Kendall Marshall
Feb 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha (25) steals the ball from Los Angeles Lakers guard Kendall Marshall (12) during the second quarter at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
I know I am pulling another player from another disappointing California team, but man, is this guy fun to watch.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled a zipper down his body and a fresh and younger Steve Nash popped out. With all the wrap-around and spinning bounce passes, I would certainly give him the generic 2k video game nickname Houdini.
This D-League call up has certainly left his mark with the Los Angeles Lakers after a disappointing rookie season with the Phoenix Suns, drafted as a lottery pick. He showed flashes of brilliance then, but he is doing it on a much more consistent basis now.
He’s putting up 9.2 points and 9.4 assists a game while shooting an astonishing 45 percent from downtown—a drastic increase from his 3.0 points and 3.0 assists he averaged for the Suns.
Go watch this guy when you have a chance, but close your eyes when you see him about to shoot, because he has one ugly shooting form—I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shawn Marion come out of that body suit rather than Nash.
1. Lance Stephenson
Feb 19, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson (1) bleeds from his mouth during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Pacers 104-91. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
No team has ever won back-to-back MIP awards.
If Lance Stephenson wins the award this year, the Indiana Pacers will tie the Orlando Magic for having the most MIP awards of any franchise. This kid is no joke, and yes, I mean kid because this youngin’ is only 23 years old.
Paul George isn’t the only two-way player on this team.
Stephenson is putting up 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game while shooting 55 percent from the field, which is a significant increase from 8.8, 3.9, and 2.9.
He’s not just an extremely well-rounded offensive player, but he is also a hard-nosed defender.
George must have given him some tips because I think it’s pretty likely that Indiana will have another MIP award coming its way. It will be interesting to see what offers come Stephenson’s way this summer as an unrestricted free agent.