UHM’s 2016-17 NBA Regular Season Award Predictions
NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award (MIPOY)
Dennis Schroder – Atlanta Hawks
My Most Improved Player of the Year prediction will go to Dennis Schroder. The Hawks traded away Jeff Teague this offseason relinquishing the starting point guard position solely to Dennis Schroder going forward and I believe he will flourish in this role. I feel the Hawks upgraded at the Center position letting Al Horford go and signing Dwight Howard this offseason. Howard is much more athletic than Horford and more of an offensive presence in the paint which should help Schroder’s assist numbers go up more this year. Schroder has always had the ability to score and even last year with Jeff Teague (the starting point guard) on the team, Coach Bud would still prefer to have Schroder leading the team down the stretch, making it easier to trade away Teague this offseason and give Schroder the reigns. Schroder may be the team’s best scoring option now so his points per game will be there and he’s surrounded by weapons (Bazemore, Korver, Millsap & Howard) so the assists should come easily especially in Atlanta’s heavy ball movement system.
2016-17 Projected Stats: 19.4 Points, 8.3 Assists, 4.7 Rebounds and 1.8 Steals per game (36 Minutes per game)
2nd Option – D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers): With new Head Coach Luke Walton I feel D’Angelo Russell will show plenty of glimpses why he was taken as the #2 overall pick last year. No Kobe Bryant (retirement) and No old school coach in Byron Scott who fits coaching a more experienced team than developing young talent to hold him back anymore; he’ll be able to show what he’s really made of. His Preseason has already been pretty impressive so I expect that to carry over into the regular season this year as well.
Dark Horse Candidate(s) – Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Harrison Barnes (Dallas Mavericks): For this particular award I have TWO Dark Horse candidates. The first being Minnesota’s guard Zach LaVine. LaVine isn’t just a big-time dunker, the kid can actually play some ball. This year he’ll be starting at his proper position (shooting guard) instead of playing point guard and I believe we’ll see a HUGE difference. Harrison Barnes is my other Dark Horse candidate; I feel Harrison will have more opportunity to get shots in Dallas now as one of the primary options more so than he did with Golden State as a starter, but, role player. Now he’ll be more of a focal point of the offense and I believe his stats will reflect that.