COMMENTARY | While other NBA fans have been enjoying the playoffs, New Orleans Hornets fans have been relegated to awaiting the results of several year-end awards. With three players in serious contention for three different NBA awards, the 27-55 Hornets had a unique opportunity to make their presence felt on awards often earned by players on the NBA's best teams.
Ryan Anderson finished fifth in the voting for the 2013 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, which seems about right for New Orleans' outside-shooting power forward. The Hornets now have all their hopes pinned on Anthony Davis' candidacy for the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year Award because Greivis Vasquez came in second for the Most Improved Player Award.
Paul George had an outstanding season for the Indiana Pacers and he won the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player Award. George earned 311 points in the voting while Vasquez came in a distant second with 146 points. Despite George's strong season for the Eastern Conference's third seed, Vasquez should have won this prestigious award.
Unfortunately, the voters may have treated the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player Award as the MVP Award. George's team certainly had a much better season than the Hornets. But while the success of one's team should play a critical role in the voting for the MVP award, it should not be a factor in winning the Most Improved Player Award.
Based on the statistical measures of which player improved more, Greivis Vasquez clearly improved more than Paul George did this season. In the three critical offensive statistics, points, rebounds, and assists per game, George went from 12.1 to 17.4 PPG, 5.6 to 7.6 RPG, and 2.4 to 4.1 APG. This represents 43.8 percent, 35.7 percent, and 70.8 percent improvement, respectively.
For New Orleans, Greivis Vasquez improved from 8.9 to 13.9 PPG, 2.6 to 4.3 RPG, and 5.4 to 9.0 APG. This represents 56.2 percent, 65.4 percent, and 66.7 percent improvement, respectively for Vasquez. One can make a case that George had a better season than Vasquez. However, Vasquez clearly improved more than George, which is the sole criteria for the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
Playing time makes an even stronger case for Greivis Vasquez. In 2011-12, Paul George started all 66 games for the Pacers, averaging just under 30 minutes per game. This season, he started all 79 games in which he played, averaging just over 37 minutes per game. On the other hand, Vasquez only started 26 games last season for New Orleans. Vasquez's minutes per game went from 25.8 to 34.4, a better improvement than George.
At the end of the season, the only award that matters is which team wins the NBA Finals. But clearly, Greivis Vasquez was more deserving of the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player Award than Paul George. Hopefully next year at this time, the Pelicans will be too preoccupied with the NBA playoffs to worry about NBA awards.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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