Five Suns Qualify for SI.com MIP Prototypes

When it comes to this season’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, maybe the NBA would be better off simply restricting their search to Phoenix.

Okay, that’s exaggerating things a little bit, but it’s worth noting the Suns have a starting lineup’s worth of candidates according to SI.com’s latest piece. Writer Rob Mahoney lays out the various prototypes/descriptions for MIP candidates, and he’s got five – repeat, five – Phoenix players mentioned throughout.

Gerald Green got the biggest shout-out as the leading candidate under “The Systemic Fit”, described thusly:

“Sometimes ‘improvement’ is as simple as finding the right place to ply your trade. Green, 28, wasn’t as useless an offensive player as he seemed last season in Indiana, where he shot his way out of a job by hitting on just 36.6 percent of his attempts. But he’s also caught on in Phoenix largely because his role aligns rather perfectly with his talents. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t ask Green to do anything that he can’t do well, and as a result the well-traveled swingman has given valuable minutes and production to a team in position to benefit from his game."

Goran Dragic was the other leading candidate under “The Scoring Jump.” Hard to argue this one, especially based on Mahoney’s criterion:

“The aforementioned changes in role, system or minutes are in some cases responsible, though there are those players who manage to ramp up their output without seeing their situation change much. Among the players in the midst of such an improvement this season, Dragic is the most compelling.”

It’s true. Dragic’s scoring and efficiency are up while his turnovers are down. Those trends are even more pronounced since Eric Bledsoe underwent knee surgery, an interesting fact since other teams figured to have an easier time accounting for one elite playmaker instead of two.

Mahoney lists “other candidates” under each category, and that’s where the piece becomes more than a little Suns-themed.

Miles Plumlee got a mention under the same category as Green. Markieff Morris, who’s averaging over 19 points per game over the last seven, is under “The Organic Rise”, which recognizes players who are “taking the next step in [their] NBA path.”

Bledsoe’s impact pre-surgery was significant enough to merit consideration even well after the injury. The fourth-year guard received a candidacy nod under “The Minutes Swell”, which is almost self-explanatory. Bledsoe was good before he got to Phoenix, he’s simply getting the minutes his talent deserved.

Shout-out to General Manager Ryan McDonough and Head Coach Jeff Hornacek for recognizing Bledsoe’s breakout year as can’t-miss opportunity.