Even despite some career-best form over the last quarter of the season, it appears highly unlikely that rising star Jordan Poole could bring home the NBA’s Most Improved Player award for the Golden State Warriors.
Going by most major bookmakers, the award seems destined to be won by Memphis Grizzlies’ star Ja Morant.
The Golden State Warriors have been without Stephen Curry the last few weeks, and it’s shown just how good Jordan Poole has become.
But although many believe the award has been run and won, the Warriors’ third year guard still has some supporters. That includes All-Star forward Draymond Green, who campaigned vigorously for his teammate in the wake of the Warriors victory over the Spurs on Saturday.
Green has a valid argument; Morant averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 assists last season, numbers that nearly earned him an All-Star berth.
While his assists have dropped this season, his points per game have risen to 27.4 thanks to a significant increase in field goal and three-point percentage. Morant has tremendously improved as well, but did he improve the most?
In comparison, Poole has increased his scoring from 12 to 18.4, his assists from 1.9 to 4, and his rebounds from 1.8 to 3.4. The biggest push for Morant stems from the Grizzlies second place finish in the conference, but Poole too had a major impact on his team’s rise up the standings.
Aside from the undoubtedly bias perspective of Green, Poole has support from Bleacher Report who ranked him number one in their final most improved player rankings for the 2021-22 season.
"“With the injuries the Warriors’ core players suffered, it was important that the supporting players provided some consistency. Poole fit that bill better than anyone, and he now looks to be a part of that core for years to come”."
Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today also endorsed Poole’s case for most improved with a deep dive article into his impressive improvement across the season.
"“This isn’t meant as a shot against Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Miles Bridges, Dejounte Murray, Anfernee Simons, Tyrese Maxey, Desmond Bane, or any of the other candidates. However, I’ve come away more and more impressed by Poole in each passing game”."
Poole may not be the frontrunner to land the award, but his performances in the absence of Stephen Curry have certainly re-ignited his name into the discussion.