Photo: Memphis Grizzlies

Sometimes, the media surrounding the NBA can be overly negative. 

They are very quick to criticize players when they have a bad game, a bad week, or a bad season. Commentators and journalists alike are quick to complain and extremely slow to compliment a player that is showing improvement. 

Today, we want to spread a little more positivity. 

There are so many players out there who put in the effort at the gym and on the training court day after day. They go out and work on the feedback their coaches have given them. And it pays off. 

Today, we want to celebrate 5 of these players – the ones that have worked hard and made a huge difference to their performance this year. We want them to know that their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and that they should be proud of themselves. 

#5 – Robert Williams III 

Boston Celtics 

As Robert Williams gets better, so do the Celtics. 

When we say that Williams has had a phenomenal season – we really aren’t exaggerating. Before this season, we could all see that Williams had a gift for reading the court and for playmaking. He was also great in the air. 

What he was lacking, however, was the overall fitness and athleticism to keep up with the big boys in the league. We don’t live in an area where you can get by on talent alone anymore. 

Williams has been able to play more this season than he has for his previous three seasons combined. With the extra game time, Williams has become comfortable on the court. He has taken a big role in Celtic’s defensive plans. Now he seems to be able to conjure opportunities out of nowhere. 

#4 – Desmond Bane

Memphis Grizzlies 

The winner of the Most Improved Player Award seems to think that Desmond Bane should have taken home his award this year. So much so that he left the award in Bane’s chicken after they hung out together. 

This season, Bane doubled his average points per game (from 9.0 to 18.2 per game) across 73 games this season. He also managed 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game as an average. 

But points aren’t the only thing that Bane has provided the Grizzlies with this season, he has been nearly flawless in defense as well. 

Whatever changes they have made at the Grizzlies camp this year have made a huge difference to multiple members of their squad. Both players and staff should be proud. 

How far do you think the Grizzlies will make it in the playoffs this year? You can find the best NBA live odds here. 

#3 – Darius Garland

Cleveland Cavaliers 

When the NBA voted on Most Improved Player this season, Darius Garland came third. And for good reason. He has had a really impressive season. 

This was the first year that Garland was invited to the All-Stars and he really deserved to be there. This season, over 68 games, he averaged 21.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists. He was averaging 35.6 minutes per game. 

These stats are a hell of a lot better than most people on this list. But most importantly, they completely eclipse Garland’s stats from last season. 

In any other year, Garland could have won the top prize. 

#2 – Dejounte Murray

San Antonio Spurs 

Murray narrowly missed out on winning the Most Improved trophy this year. This is a real shame because he has been playing out of his skin all season. He has been playing unrecognizably well. 

Many think that Murray was snubbed this year and deserved the award. Why? Well, because Murray has always played an average game. He never won Rookie of the Year (like the number one player on this list). He’s never broken records. But he has put in solid performances for the last 5 years. 

Only to blow everyone else out of the water this season. 

If you’re looking for the most unexpected, dramatic, and satisfying improvement in the NBA this season – then look no further than Dejounte Murray. 

Murray finished the 2022 season as the first player in NBA history to average 20 points, 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals a game. That has to be worth recognition right? 

#1 – Ja Morant 

Memphis Grizzlies 

You all knew this was coming. You might say this is an unoriginal choice, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate. 

Ja Morant was picked 29th overall in the 2019 Draft and was named Rookie of the Year that season. Even in that year, he didn’t play as well as he has in the 2021-22 season. 

Over 53 games, Morant averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. He played for 33.1 minutes on average in these games. All of which were improvements on last year. Most of which were career bests. 

Some are now floating Morant’s name as a possible MVP, especially if he is able to take the Grizzlies all the way to the NBA Finals.