Just like everyone is talking about the upstart Pacers as being perhaps the league’s most improved team, everyone is even more certain about one thing: Roy Hibbert currently has a strangle-hold on the Most Improved Player trophy.
Danny Granger made a similar leap a few years ago and was rewarded with some hardware of his own so Pacers fans should be familiar with exactly how much more impressive the big fella has been this year. The year-over-year stats speak for themselves. He is averaging 16.1 ppg compared to 11.7 ppg last year. He is up to 9.6 boards a night instead of 5.7. He’s dropping 3.0 dimes rather than 2.0. His impressive block total has risen: 2.1 now over 1.6 last season. Perhaps most meaningful is something that is going largely unnoticed by the mainstream folks drooling over his play: this season he is averaging 3.3 fouls in 30 minutes a night whereas last year he struggled to stay on the court while picking up 3.5 in 25 minutes per.
Here is what Maurice Brooks of ESPN’s Award Watch column had to say about Roy being the number one contender for Most Improved.
1. Roy Hibbert, Pacers: Sure, the season is fewer than 20 games old, but barring a significant injury or drop-off in production, this award is his to lose. He roughed up Pau Gasol and the boys for 24 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists Sunday.
His award to lose indeed.