Houston Rockets Most Improved: How Kevin Porter Jr can win Most Improved Player
Kevin Porter Jr is an entirely different category. While his 16.6 points per game outstrip most Most Improved Player recipients, his advanced metrics prove that he's nowhere near a top-50 player. In fact, Porter is a more conventional Most Improved Player candidate.
The average Most Improved Player winner, with a -2 BPM or lower in the season before they won the award, averaged 8.9 points a game before their breakout. While Porter might fit into that group in terms of advanced metrics, most voters don't scour the biggest BPM improvers when they vote.
Instead, let's use points per game as our proxy to find Porter's Most Improved peers. Looking at players that averaged between 13 and 17 points a game in the season before they won the award, we find seven players fit the criteria.
7. Pre-Most Improved Season
PPG: 14.6 RPG: 4.67 APG: 4.09 WS: 5.73 VORP: 2.04 BPM: 1.23 USG: 21.04%
8. Most Improved Season
PPG: 21.9 RPG: 5.64 APG: 5.14 WS: 10.86 VORP: 5.19 BPM: 5.19 USG: 25.9%
PPG: 7.23 RPG: 0.97 APG: 1.06 WS: 5.13 VORP: 3.14 BPM: 3.96 USG: 4.91%
This group of players in their breakout season went from good to great. For context, a 5.2 BPM would have been the 13th best BPM last season. Expecting Kevin Porter Jr to go from -3.8 to 5.2 BPM in a single season would be like asking Luguentz Dort to turn into Kyrie Irving.
However, if we forget about advanced metrics, as many are apt to do, asking Porter Jr to boost his traditional metrics as this group did is well within the realm of possibility. For Porter to match this group's improvement he'd need to average around 22 points, five rebounds, and seven assists.
Those would all be big improvements but nothing that a 5-percent boost in usage rate can't handle. Now that we know what a Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr would likely need to do to land the Most Improved Player award, who has the edge?