The NBA has announced the winner of the Most Improved Player award: Brand Ingram. This award is well deserved for Ingram, although it shouldn’t have been a shock to many that he put up the numbers that he did this season. I personally had Bam Adebayo winning the award, but I’m not surprised Ingram took it home.
The NBA also released the full list of players who received votes for this award. Jayson Tatum finished in fourth place, which is great to see, considering he should’ve been a top candidate to win the award. He received 57 votes, which is 44 behind third-place finisher Luka Doncic.
This is where we have a problem. As you keep looking down the list, you can’t help but notice a certain name doesn’t show up until number 12. It is mind-blowing to me that Jaylen Brown only finished with three total votes. Davis Bertans, Fred VanVleet, Trae Young, Christian Wood, and Pascal Siakam all received just as many, if not more, votes than Brown did.
Bertans got a much bigger opportunity this season and took advantage of it, but nobody took advantage of their opportunity like Brown did. VanVleet had an excellent year carrying the workload in Toronto after Kawhi left, but he didn’t make a more significant jump than Brown. Trae Young’s stats are insane, but he also plays on one of the worst teams in the NBA. Christian Wood had a great second half of the year and will make an impact on whatever team he’s on next season, but he doesn’t make an impact for his team like Brown does. Siakam continues to get better every season and deserves the credit he gets, but he’s the #1 guy in Toronto, and Brown isn’t the #1 guy in Boston.
Here’s the point, Jaylen Brown improved much more from last season to now than all of the players I just mentioned. You remember that Brown got moved to the bench last year because he didn’t “fit” with the starters? You remember that Brown dealt with trade rumors and constant slander from fans and analysts all season long? Brown has dealt with more adversity than any of those guys, but he still blocked all those people out and balled out this year.
Jaylen Brown’s scoring averages went from 13.0 to 20.3. His rebound averages went from 4.2 to 6.4. His assist averages went from 1.4 to 2.1. His field goal percentage went from 46% to 48%. His three-point percentage went from 34% to 38%. Most importantly, Brown has emerged as a top two-way player in the league and became a top option on a contending team.
It’s not just about the stats when it comes to telling the story of how well Jaylen Brown played this year. You have to watch his highlights from years before and compare them to now to understand. He has a handle now. He can finish stronger at the basket and with both hands. He has a turnaround mid-range jumper that is one of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen. He has an attitude and mentality to go out there and make a difference on the court.
Jaylen Brown has become a difference-maker for Boston. You can rely on him to hit shots all around the floor. Need a wide-open or contested three to go in? Jaylen’s got it. Need to run the fastbreak and make a huge bucket on the other end? Give the ball to Jaylen. We talk about Jayson Tatum being the go-to guy in Boston and how he’s the next best thing in the NBA, but Jaylen Brown isn’t too far behind.
It’s annoying that Jaylen Brown doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He has the best season of his career and has a complete turnaround from last year and only gets three votes for the Most Improved Player. It’s nothing new for Boston players, who seem to continuously be disrespected by voters and analysts across the league.
Jokes on them, though, because all this does is motivate the players to work harder and quiet the haters. Whether Jaylen Brown finished 12 or 150th on that list, I wouldn’t care because he’s doing just fine in Boston. You can take your Wood’s, your Siakam’s, and VanVleet’s, but I’ll stick with Jaylen.
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