You could make a case that Avery Bradley did not deserve this season’s Most Improved Player Award. I would not agree with you, but the case can be made for a few different players. It’s more difficult to say that seven other players improved more than Bradley did, but that’s what the award’s voters determined.
Bradley finished eighth in the NBA’s Most Improved Player award voting, behind Ryan Anderson (the winner) and six others. The full results of the voting follow, per NBA.com.
2011-12 Kia Most Improved Player of the Year Results
So for an award voted on by 121 sportswriters, only 12 of them even put Bradley on the ballot. Can I remind the other 109 how far Bradley has traveled?
He was so afraid last season that he literally didn’t even want to participate in practice drills. He averaged 5.2 minutes per game last season, made just 34 percent of his field goals, scored just 1.7 points, didn’t make a single three-pointer all year and did not play a single second in Boston’s lone playoff series. His offense was so bad that a friend went to one of Boston’s games, called me while the game was still going on, and told me Danny Ainge should be fired for drafting Bradley in the first round. Bradley did tie a league record with nine steals — during his time in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws. Bradley spent a week at Doc Rivers’ house in Orlando this offseason just because he wanted Rivers to start trusting him. I remember ridiculing Bradley, thinking that if he wanted Rivers to trust him, he should probably learn how to run an NBA offense instead.
Now, Bradley has stolen Ray Allen’s starting spot, improved his three-point shooting from zero percent to 40.7 percent, emerged as arguably the league’s best individual defender, and become an x-factor for Boston’s playoff run, not to mention a huge reason the Celtics finished the regular season with the best post-All Star break record.
Yet Ryan Anderson won the award mostly because he played a lot more minutes this season, and Jeremy Lin, who played just 35 games, also finished ahead of Bradley.
Again, I’m not saying Bradley deserved the award in a landslide. I’m not even necessarily saying he deserved the award. I would have to spend more time looking at everyone else’s seasons before determining that. But Bradley went from being the very worst player on the Boston Celtics to a crucial reason why they succeed. The fact that 109 writers left Bradley off their ballots entirely is a joke.