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Hassan Whiteside & the Candidates for Most Improved Player

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Hassan Whiteside is near the top of the list for the candidates for the NBA's Most Improved Player. Let's take a look at the competition.

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The NBA is the midst of dishing out their season awards. There's still a few to come, but only one with any real potential for a Miami Heat player to snag one, and that's the Most Improved Player.

Last year, Goran Dragic won the award when he was with the Phoenix Suns. This year, it's Hassan Whiteside who emerged onto the scene to make a name for himself. So here's the top candidates for the award that is sure to be revealed soon.

1. Jimmy Butler

2013-14: 38.7 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 40% FG, 29% 3PT, 3.9 FTM
2014-15: 38.7 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 46% FG, 37% 3PT, 5.9 FTM

Butler probably has the inside track on all the candidates. He had a huge jump in scoring, and he became an All-Star this year. Butler's growth was helped by continued absences by Derrick Rose, but nonetheless, with the same amount of playing time, Jimmy upped his game tremendously.

2. Hassan Whiteside

2011-12*: 6.1 MPG, 1.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 44% FG, 42% FT, 16.2 PER
2014-15: 23.8 MPG, 11.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 62% FG, 50% FT, 29.0 PER

Hassan as a little different story than anyone else on the list, his numbers a reflection from a few seasons ago, because he hasn't played in the NBA for a season since 2012. But you can see, he went from a nobody to a pretty spectacular PER. If you watched at all this season, he was a main reason the Heat had any renewed hope for a playoff run.

3. Klay Thompson

2013-14: 35.4 MPG, 18.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.2 APG, 44% FG, 42% 3PT, 1.8 FTM
2014-15: 31.9 MPG, 21.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.9 APG, 46% FG, 44% 3PT, 2.9 FTM

You aren't seeing a great job here, in fact a dip in the MPG shows you how much more efficient he was this season. Also, he was a catalyst on the best team in the NBA. Thompson likely won't get a ton of votes, but he's made great improvements.

4. Draymond Green

2013-14: 21.9 MPG, 6.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 41% FG, 33% 3PT, 0.7 3PM
2014-15: 31.5 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 44% FG, 34% 3PT, 1.4 3PM

Here's a hard working guy who managed to make a great jump in production while having to share the ball with Steph Curry and Thompson. Green is heralded as a great teammate and his jump is across the board. He deserves a hard look for MIP.

5. Anthony Davis

2013-14: 35.2 MPG, 20.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 52% FG, 79% FT, 26.5 PER
2014-15: 36.1 MPG, 24.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 54% FG, 80% FT, 32.0 PER

We can take him for granted, but if you look at Davis and his PER, he has improved on both sides of the floor. Early in the season, he was in the MVP talks for the way he was playing. He had a good season last year, so I'm not sure he made a big enough of jump for MIP, but he's progressing enough to be noticed in my book.

6. Rudy Gobert

2013-14: 9.6 MPG, 2.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 49% FG, 49% FT, 12.9 PER
2014-15: 26.3 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 60% FG, 62% FT, 21.8 PER

Gobert showed some great development as well, especially in FG%. Most of his numbers are due to the fact that he over doubled his playing time, but that shouldn't hold him back from consideration. If the Jazz were a better team, Gobert may move up the list.

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I think Hassan Whiteside is right up there with Jimmy Butler for the contention for this award. The only thing I'm not sure of is the voters: how late in the game did they start to notice Whiteside? Butler was on stage all year for the Bulls. It will be interesting, but we should know soon.

What do you think? Who should win the award and why?