Aaron Brooks To Win Most Improved Player Despite Not Actually Improving

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Aaron Brooks is reportedly going to win the Most Improved Player award. The award itself is a silly one, since there's no real criteria for improvement, and the voters tend to be people that are in the dark ages when it comes to NBA stats (i.e. they look at points per game and nothing else). 

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But that still doesn't mean we can't point out how bad a decision this is. Brooks is a decent player, but he's basically doing the same thing he did last year, albeit with more minutes and shots. In fact, as Basketball Reference pointed out earlier this month using some fancy, descriptive stats, he didn't actually improve once you get beyond the scientific "points per game" justification.

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Believe it or not, Brooks has actually played a bit below his expectation. Now, I know the argument: Brooks has managed to maintain his efficiency while increasing his minutes by about 10 per game. That's true, but that does not mean that Brooks has actually improved. There are two possibilities:

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  1. Brooks should have seen a decrease in efficiency given an increase in his minutes, and the fact that he has been able to maintain that efficiency is evidence of improvement.
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  3. Brooks has not improved beyond what we would expect from a player his age, and his per game numbers are up simply because of an increase in minutes played.
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Quite frankly, there is no way to prove whether (1) or (2) is correct. I tend to believe that the answer is a combination of the two, but more (2) than (1).    
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In layman's terms, what BR is saying is that Brooks only looked better because he got one year older and also got more minutes and shots. Which is true. It's easy for you to average more points per game when you don't have Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest on your team. 

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So who should be the MIP? Kevin Durant. It's no contest. I know players are supposed to show natural progression from age 20 to 21, but you're not supposed to go from being a borderline all-star to the best scorer in all of basketball over the course of one year. If that's not a sign that he's made the biggest jump, then I don't know what is.

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