Last season, Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s play made him a Most Improved Player finalist. Here are 3 Nets who could be candidates this season.
This year the Nets have a handful of players that, if healthy, have the potential to truly blossom and have some breakout years. Here are a few players that are potential Most Improved Player candidates.
Jarrett Allen has quickly become one of the names that comes up when talking about the young, rising talent in the league. Drafted last year by the Brooklyn Nets with the 22nd overall pick, Allen didn’t really start turning heads until halfway through the season.
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The reason Allen could be an MIP candidate is the sheer potential this kid possesses. Allen came into the league very raw. He was a skinny player coming out of Texas. But when he was on the court, you saw some glimpses of what could be a special player.
He’s been compared most to Houston Rockets’ center Clint Capela and you see how big of a factor he was for their team last year.
Allen had six games as a rookie with at least four blocks. In fact, during a five-game stretch from April 1-9, Allen had 18 blocks, five of which came in an April 5 game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He led all rookies in blocks with 88 and only played in 72 games.
On offense Allen showed he is very capable of finishing around the basket; however, he did struggle with handling some passes. One surprising thing he did last season was knock down a couple of 3s.
Now I don’t think people should expect him to shoot at the level of Brook Lopez, but it’s still a nice added dimension to his game to be able to hit a 3 or two from the corner.
There’s no doubt that coach Kenny Atkinson and the coaching staff will have Allen in the weight room as well this offseason. Last season Allen averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, along with 1.2 blocks per game.
Don’t be surprised if Allen becomes a 15-and-10 guy this season, which could easily catapult him into that MIP discussion.
Although his statistics were pretty good last season, D’Angelo Russell has the potential to have a Victor Oladipo-type rise next season. Once the Indiana Pacers traded away Paul George, Oladipo took over and improved his scoring. He went from 15 points per game to 23.
He also improved his rebounding and assists. This is the statistical jump Russell could possibly have. Last season, D’Angelo averaged 15.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in only 48 games in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets.
He also shot 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range. Russell will be going into the year healthy and ready to prove himself. You see it in his offseason workout videos with him and Devin Booker getting up shots and lifting weights.
Russell looks like a stronger, more durable player. Players on the team are talking about his improved leadership skills. Anthony Puccio if NetsDaily had some quotes from newly acquired Jared Dudley‘s his thoughts on Russell:
The Nets see a budding star in Russell and see him as a cornerstone of the team:
Another thing to take into account which could play into Russell’s improvement is that it’s a contract year for the young guard. He’s set to become a restricted free agent, but if he wants the Nets to pay out, he’s going to have to play like a max player.
Sir Charles In Charge
The energetic and seemingly always-smiling Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may be a very under-the-radar candidate, but has the potential to really make a name for himself. Hollis-Jefferson has improved in each of his three seasons with the Brookyn Nets.
Last season he improved his scoring from 8.7 to 13.9 points per game while also improving his rebounding from 5.8 to 6.8 rebounds per game. On the defensive end, RHJ is a stud.
He can lock up just about any position on the floor, although he was exposed at times by bigger centers when the Nets went with smaller lineups. Aside from that, his length and quickness allow him to block shots and jump the passing lanes. He averaged a steal per game last season.
On the offensive end, Rondae can seem a bit out of control at times. He’s not afraid to drive to the rim, but sometimes that gets him into trouble. In transition, however, RHJ is great at running the floor and finishing. His jump shot is getting better, but still leaves a lot to be desired.
Having the ability to shoot the corner 3 would do wonders for his game as it would be a way to keep defenses honest. He already has the ability to drive past most defenders in the league.
If Rondae can improve his scoring by five or six points, while keeping up his play on the defensive end, he won’t just be in the MIP discussions. He could possibly be in the talks about the better two-way players in the league.