On Friday, D’Angelo Russell was named one of three finalists for the KIA NBA Most Improved Player Award. De’Aaron Fox of the Kings and Pascal Siakam of the Raptors are the other two finalists for the MIP.
Russell led the Brooklyn Nets to their first playoff appearance since 2015, reaching the sixth seed in the last day of the season. The Nets point guard played 81 games and averaged 30.2 minutes, 21.1 points, 7.0 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. The Nets guard made a career-high 234 three’s this past season while shooting 36.9 percent.
In the 2017-18 season, Russell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and played only 48 games, averaging 25.7 minutes, 15.5 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. More importantly, Brooklyn went from 28-54 in 2017-18 to 42-40 this past season, a 14 win improvement.
De’Aaron Fox played 81 games and averaged 31.4 minutes, 17.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.8 rebounds, leading the Sacramento Kings to a 39-43 record. In 2017-18, his rookie season, Fox played 73 games and averaged 27.8 minutes, 11.6 points, 4.4 assists, and 2.8 rebounds. The Kings finished with a 27-55 record that season.
Pascal Siakam, who is viewed as the favorite for the award, played in 80 games for the Toronto Raptors and averaged 31.9 minutes, 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. The Raptors, who are currently in the Eastern Conference Finals, finished with a 58-24 record.
A year ago, Siakam played in 81 games for Toronto, only starting five games, and averaged 20.7 minutes, 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. The Raptors finished first in the East in 2017-18 with a record of 59-23.
In somewhat of a surprise, Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t make the Sixth Man of the Year finalists. The three finalists in that category were Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, both of the Clippers, and Donatas Sabonis of the Pacers. Dinwiddie missed 14 games due to a surgery for a thumb injury, but still finished second in the NBA in both points and assists per game off the bench.
The awards will be announced June 24.