Who was the Indiana Pacers Most Improved Player during the 2019-20 NBA season?
After concluding the 2019-2020 season there were three players in the running for Most Improved player, in my opinion. The three players included Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday, and Domantas Sabonis. For Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, their cases are led by All-Star-caliber seasons with Sabonis ultimately getting the honors and Brogdon being hindered by many nagging injuries.
For Aaron Holiday it’s not the same, he went from being a rookie without a significant role on the team to starting half of the games this season and filling in and providing quality production since the Pacers were plagued by injuries all season.
Ultimately, there can only be one winner of the award and the winner is…*drumroll*
Indiana Pacers Most Improved Player – Domantas Sabonis
Domantas Sabonis came into the 2019-2020 season being inserted into the starting lineup alongside Myles Turner at the PF spot. The Turbonis pairing is odd because they swap positions on each side of the ball with Myles playing the Center spot on offense but switching to the PF spot on defense and vice versa for Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis took advantage of the odd pairing by averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on .540/.254/.723 shooting splits, which led to him being named an All-Star. Comparing that to the year before where he averaged 14.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists on .590/.592/.715 shooting splits, his number improvements don’t jump off the paper but they are there.
You can’t just use stats to talk about Domantas Sabonis’ major improvement on the court, you can use the eye test. Sabonis was the most impactful player on the Pacers and it showed on the court in the playoffs without him there. Sabonis played great with the starters but when the minutes were staggered to where he played mostly with the bench, he shined. Domantas Sabonis showed that he can score at will in the post, rebound with the best of them, get people open with his great screening ability, and find people on cuts or running around on the perimeter.
Domantas Sabonis is already a special player and I think he is going to keep improving, the sky is the limit. Some Pacer fans want to blow up the team and trade him because “a big man can’t be the best player on a team”. His impact leads to winning basketball and I believe the Pacers should keep putting pieces around him and not give up on him.