The second half of the 2017-18 NBA season is well underway, which means it is a good idea to take a look at the five shooting guards who have improved their game the most from last season to this season.
Over the next three or four weeks, I will take a look at each position from point guard to center. This will help round out the candidates for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. Last season, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks took home the hardware. The “Greek Freak” played almost the same amount of minutes from 2015-16 (35.3 to 35.6). But he scored almost six more points per game (22.9 to 28.5).
Fast forward to this season and Antetokounmpo is an MVP candidate on a Bucks team that ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference; two games behind the fifth-place Washington Wizards.
I have already looked at the five most improved point guards, which you can read by clicking here.
This article will look at the point, assist, steal and block production +/- averages for players listed as point guards, according to hoopsstats.com. In addition, we will look at their eff rating, which Hoops Stats uses to measure a player’s overall efficiency at both ends. Other stats including effective field goal percentage (eFG%), which weighs three and two-point baskets differently and true shooting percentage (TS%), which combines a players’ field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage to more effectively measure shooting prowess, will be utilized.
But, eff rating measures players overall contributions. Therefore, that stat will determine their ranking.
Stock Watch: 5 Most Improved Shooting Guards
No. 5: Kent Bazemore – Atlanta Hawks (+3.9 eff rating)
Bazemore’s stats from last season to this season across the board do not scream major improvement.
The 28-year-old who is in his sixth season in the NBA, has only seen his minutes (+1.7) points, (1.8) rebounds (1.1) and assists (1.2) rise by marginal numbers, but he has gotten the job done at both ends of the floor, has become a better defender and rebounder and as a result, is a more efficient player.
His true shooting percentage of 54.1 is solid and his Player Efficiency Rating of 15 is by far his career high through 44 games this season.
No. 4: Justin Holiday – Chicago Bulls (+5.1 eff rating)
One of the other reasons has been the play of shooting guard Justin Holiday. After playing in all 82 games last season, a career high in games played, with the New York Knicks, the 28-year-old Holiday is on pace to set career highs in points (13.7), assists (2.3) and rebounds (4.6).
When Holiday is not contributing on the offensive end, he gets the job done on the defensive end.
No. 3: Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns (+5.3 eff rating)
Devin Booker does not get enough attention because he plays on a bad Phoenix Suns team, but he is has developed into a star.
Booker is averaging a career-high 25.3 points per game, 4.6 assists per game and 4.5 rebounds per game, to go along with career highs in effective field goal percentage (51.5), PER (19.6) and TS% (58).
Booker probably will not be named a Western Conference All-Star reserve, but he certainly deserves it. Booker’s averages can only be matched by five other players: DeMarcus Cousins, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden and LeBron James.
No. 2: Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers (+8.9 eff rating)
Victor Oladipo has played like an MVP and has turned himself into someone in the league this season.
He has finally broken out like many expected to and become the face of a franchise. He has almost doubled his point production from last season (15.9 to 24.3) and he is averaging four assists and 5.3 rebounds per game as well.
Oladipo’s 23.9 PER is one of the best in the league at his position, and he could have easily been an All-Star starter in the East.
No. 1: Tyreke Evans – Memphis Grizzlies (+9.3 eff rating)
The most improved shooting guard in the NBA this season is not Oladipo or Booker.
It has been Tyreke Evans.
Evans is averaging 19.6 points per game, the most he has averaged since his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings in 2009-10. Evans 22.2 PER ranks as one of the best in the league at his position and is his career high. His 56.7 TS% is also a career high.
There are bound to be plenty of teams interested in Evans with the Trade Deadline approaching.
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