Houston Rockets Most Improved: How good were Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr last season?
A large reason the Rockets won the fewest games in the league last season is that Christian Wood missed 31 games. It's hard to replace 21 points and 9.6 rebounds a game on 51.4-percent shooting. Wood, in reality, experienced his breakout last season. He simply didn't play enough games to win Most Improved Player. He did finish fourth in the voting, although he garnered no first-place votes.
Kevin Porter Jr was not nearly as productive as Wood. He averaged 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game on 42.5-percent shooting. While the traditional box score stats indicate that Wood has an edge on Porter Jr, the advanced metrics show the gulf between the two is staggering.
Focusing on Box plus/minus (BPM), a rate stat that helps strip out Wood's playing time advantage over Porter, it is clear who the better player was last season. Wood had a BPM of 1.4 compared to Porter's -3.8 BPM. Wood's BPM paints him as a top-50 player, while Porter's proves why he spent so much time in the G-League.
Proclaiming Christian Wood was a better player than Kevin Porter Jr last season is an absolute zero take. No one, in their right mind, would argue it. However, when it comes to improvement, starting at the bottom can give you a serious edge.