Kubatko: Hickson One Of NBA's Most Improved
By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers, j.j.hickson
In an Insider piece for ESPN.com
, Justin Kubatko, founder and editor Basketball-Reference.com
(which, for my money, is the most useful basketball stats site out there), comes up with a "method to assess improvement." The complaint from the stats crowd when it comes to the Most Improved Player award is that it too often goes to a guy whose stats have improved due to an increase in minutes, rather than any real improvement. It's a fair complaint.
Using a computation he explains in the introduction, Kubatko lists five players who have improved the most, including JJ Hickson, who is listed as the third-most improved.
3. J.J. Hickson, Portland Trail Blazers
Baseline: .058 | Current: .151 | Probability: 0.0057
Hickson's improvement actually started late last season when the Blazers signed him following his release by the Kings. That momentum has carried into this season, as Hickson has developed into a valuable starter who is playing nearly 30 minutes per game.
Prior to this season, Hickson had always been solid on the boards, but he has become an elite rebounder in 2012-13, ranking in the top 10 in the NBA in both offensive rebound percentage and defensive rebound percentage.
Hickson is also on pace for a career-high offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) thanks to a .559 true shooting percentage -- his best since the 2009-10 season -- and a career-low average of 12.2 turnovers per 100 plays.
This is one of those instances in which statistical analysis actually backs up anecdotal observations rather than disproving them. Case in point: the other players on Kubatko's list are Andre Blatche, Erik Bledsoe, Larry Sanders and Kevin Durant. That's pretty much the same list of players who NBA Luddites are promoting for Most Improved.