Each year, the NBA recognizes a new season’s class of breakout players. The 2010 NBA Most Improved Player award race is up in the air with no clear frontrunner and tens of viable candidates.
5: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
2008-2009 Stats: 6.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 67.6% free throws
2009-2010 Stats: 11.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 77.3% free throws
Joakim became the Bulls’ starting center during the middle of the 2008-2009 season and he is now consistently putting up strong numbers. Noah is now second in the league in rebounding and among the league leaders in blocks. Joakim Noah is one of the top 2010 NBA breakout players.
4: Chris Douglas-Roberts, New Jersey Nets
2008-2009 Stats: 4.9 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.3 steals
2009-2010 Stats: 13.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals
The New Jersey Nets have had little to be pleased about after starting the season with an 18-game losing streak. The improvement of Chris Douglas-Roberts has been one of their rare bright spots. Taking over a starting job in place of the traded Vince Carter, Douglas-Roberts has more than doubled his scoring and rebounding output without losing any shooting efficiency. Even though he is in the midst of a slump since returning from an injury, Chris Douglas-Roberts is one of the NBA’s breakout players of 2010.
3: Danilo Gallinari, New York Knicks
2008-2009 Stats: 6.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.1 threes, 0.1 blocks
2009-2010 Stats: 14.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 threes, 0.9 blocks
Danilo Gallinari has become a starter in the 2009-2010 season, representing a rare recent success for the Knicks. Gallinari is establishing himself as one of the league’s top three point threats, shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc and hitting nearly three per game, good for second most in the league. Gallinari is looking like a major part of the Knicks’ future and he is one of the top 2010 NBA breakout players.
2: Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns
2008-2009 Stats: 4.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 0.3 blocks, 0.2 threes
2009-2010 Stats: 11.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 2.3 threes
Channing Frye’s career was heading in the wrong direction. His numbers declined in every season after his first, until 2009-2010. Coming into the season, Frye had hit just 20 threes in his entire career; in 2009-2010, he matched that total through just seven games and has since shattered it. Frye’s new niche has made him a perfect fit for the Suns. Despite recent struggles, he has stabilized their center position and is one of the NBA’s most improved players of 2010.
1: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2008-2009 Stats: 11.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 10.5% three point percentage
2009-2010 Stats: 15.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 37.8% three point percentage
Kevin Love missed the first month of the season after suffering a broken hand in the preseason. When he returned, he was in midseason form. Love has played 25 games and has recorded a double-double in 18 of them. He has been establishing himself as one of the best rebounders in the NBA and he has even added a three point shot to his repertoire. After making only two all last season, he is taking 1.5 per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from deep.
Other candidates for the 2010 NBA Most Improved Player award include Houston’s trio of breakout players – Trevor Ariza, Aaron Brooks, and Carl Landry – along with Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey of the Pistons, Louis Williams of the Sixers, Minnesota’s Corey Brewer, Brook Lopez of the Nets, and Ersan Ilyasova of the Bucks.