The Most Improved Trail Blazer
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  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/27/2012 4:30 PM

    Who is the Most Improved Trail Blazer?
    Luke Babbitt (32)
     68%
    Nicolas Batum (4)
     9%
    J.J. Hickson (11)
     23%


    While this season didn't go as planned, there were a few bright spots along the way. And while the Trail Blazers weren't pushing for the postseason, a lot of new faces got a chance to prove themselves to Rip City. With so much turnover from the beginning of the season to the finale, a lot of players were in the running for Most Improved Player. The three players I put up for nomination were Luke Babbitt, Nicolas Batum, and J.J. Hickson. I'm sure a lot of you out there are wondering where Elliot Williams is at, but Elliot didn't play at all last year due to his preventive knee surgery and was listed as a rookie for the 2011-12 season. Had he played, it would have been a different story, but there's nothing to compare his season to. So without further ado, here are the candidates:



    Luke Babbitt | #8 | Small Forward | 6-9 | 225 | Nevada | 2nd Year

    2010-11 Stats: 24 Gms, 5.7 Mins, 1.5 Pts, 27.3 FG%, 18.5 3PT%, 33.3 FT%, 1.3 Rebs, 0.3 Assts, 0.1 Stl, 0.1 Blk
    Notable: Scored just 36 points during his rookie season while making only 3 3-pointers. Season-high in scoring was 11 on the final game of the regular season, but that was the only time Luke broke double-digits in scoring. He also played over 30 minutes just once (33) and didn't start a single game.

    2011-12 Stats: 40 Gms, 13.4 Mins, 5.1 Pts, 41.0 FG%, 43.0 3PT%, 86.4 FT%, 2.4 Rebs, 0.4 Assts, 0.3 Stl, 0.1 Blk
    Notable: Luke more than quadrupled his scoring output this year, tallying 206 total points while also proving why he was the best shooter coming out of the 2010 draft class, as he made 43 3's -- 40 more then the previous year. Babbitt registered four starts this season and played more then 30 minutes five times. Not only did he set a new career-high in points (18), he scored in double-figures six more times then his rookie year. Had he made just one more 3-pointer, Luke would have qualified for the NBA's leaders in 3-point accuracy. As it stands now, his 43% from beyond the arc would have been good enough for 11th.

    Verdict: It was clear Luke just needed playing time to show off his skill-set. Being sent to and from the D-League while sporadically playing in garbage time is no way to get into a rhythm, and nothing is more important for a shooter then his rhythm. The major improvement came from his on-court demeanor which saw that "deer in the headlights" look Luke had from a year ago, vanished and out came a more confident player who actually showed a little swagger on the court. He still needs to learn that its "ok" to shoot the ball even after a couple of misses, but definitely a season that gives the fans hope going forward with Luke Babbitt.

    Evidence:




    Nicolas Batum | #88 | Small Forward | 6-8 | 200 | France | 4th Year

    2010-11 Stats: 80 Gms, 31.5 Mins, 12.4 Pts, 45.5 FG%, 34.5 3PT%, 84.1 FT%, 4.5 Rebs, 1.5 Assts, 0.9 Stl, 0.6 Blk
    Notable: Started in 67 of his 80 games played and scored 990 total points in those contests. Nicolas was the starting small forward until the team acquired Gerald Wallace at the February trading deadline. Batum continued to start was was always questioning his role and, in fact, only started two games over the final 12 games of the season including zero starts in the playoffs. His season-high was 25 points and dropped 20 or more 14 times over the course of the 2011 season. He even got more assertive on the boards, which helped him rack up six double-doubles. He only achieved three-plus steals five steals and only recorded more then two blocks once.

    2011-12 Stats: 59 Gms, 30.4 Mins, 13.9 Pts, 45.1 FG%, 39.1 3PT%, 83.6 FT%, 4.6 Rebs, 1.4 Assts, 1.0 Stl, 1.0 Blk
    Notable: Despite just getting one start through the first 26 games of the season and still battling with role-identity and position switches (Nic was tried out at shooting guard for a handful of games), Nicolas was able to score 818 total points -- just 172 fewer then last year and did so in 21 less games. He set a new career-high (33) in scoring which he did twice, had six games of three blocks or more,  and four games of two-plus steals. His three-point stroke was one of the purest on the team as evidenced by his .391 percentage, a nice jump up from last year's .345. He made just 11 fewer 3's (118-107) but took 68 less attempts then last year.

    Verdict: If you base Nic's improvement strictly on the statistics, improvement would not be the first word that comes to mind. But once you factor in being pulled in and out of the lineup, switching positions, and being unsure of his role, the fact he was able to stay par for the course is an accomplishment in itself. But if you step away from the box score and look at his play on the floor from this year compared to last, we all saw a more assertive and complete player. Yes, begging Nicolas to be more aggressive still occurs, but it happens less often. He's still a pup (just 23 years old) and he's finally getting comfortable being the second or third man on this team, so in time those changes will be made. While the stats don't tell the whole story, they are a good indication of Batum's improvement. Even in a lockout-shortened season, Nic nearly made as many 3's in far fewer attempts while showing his defensive prowess as his high number block and steals games skyrocketed from a year ago.

    Evidence:




    J.J. Hickson | #31 | Power Forward | 6-9 | 242 | North Carolina State | 4th Year

    2010-11 Stats: 80 Gms, 28.2 Mins, 13.8 Pts, 45.8 FG%, 0 3PT%, 67.3 FT%, 8.7 Rebs, 1.1 Assts, 0.6 Stl, 0.7 Blk
    Notable: Started 66 games for the league's worst team, the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) and scored 1,105 total points. Once considered a player so valuable by Cleveland management that they wouldn't (supposedly) add in into a deal for Amare Stoudemire at the 2010 trade deadline but was eventually dealt to the Kings over the summer of 2011 for Omri Casspi and a draft pick. As the face of the franchise in 2011, Hickson scored 20-plus points, 21 times, recorded double-digits in rebounding 32 times,and had an impressive 28 total double-doubles on the year.

    2011-12 Stats (Trail Blazers): 19 Gms, 31.6 Mins, 15.1 Pts, 54.3 FG%, 0 3PT%, 64.5 FT%, 8.3 Rebs, 1.2 Assts, 0.6 Stl, 0.9 Blk
    Notable: Started in 10 of his 19 games in Portland, including the final eight games. The first notification that the Trail Blazers may have found a diamond in the rough was his first fill-in duty for LaMarcus Aldridge on March 30th in Los Angeles against the Clippers where J.J. scored 29 points, on 13-19 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds, and there was nothing Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan could do to stop him. J.J. scored in double-figures in 79% of his games as a Blazer (15-19) and recorded seven double-doubles. Hickson also set the season-record for consecutive double-doubles with four.

    Verdict: Unlike Luke and Nic, where we had the luxury of watching them play all of last season, J.J. was a bit of an unknown to Trail Blazers fans when we claimed him off of waivers. Personally, I knew the Cavs organization held him in high regard, but his trade to Sacramento didn't register in my brain until we picked him up. And I don't remember what he looked like in those two games against us last season, nor can I really recall how he performed in the three games earlier this season when he was a member of the Kings. But based on the fact this guy was a waiver-wire pickup and what I've seen from him in a Trail Blazers jersey, he's something special. He's relentless on the boards and a highlight waiting to happen.

    Evidence:


    I am a fan of
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 04/27/2012 4:41 PM

    J.J. brought it! He sliced and diced, and this team started winning games again.
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. postedbailblazers
    postedbailblazers
    Posts: 165

    Posted 04/27/2012 7:28 PM

    Sorry, but Hickson never improved as a Blazer.  He was as good per minute he played per game from start to finish (with us) this year IMO. 

    I don't think Batum improved enough to be dubbed consistant.  Anything less from him is not worth recognizing. 

    That leaves Babbit...improved yet still irrelevent.
    I am a fan of rhubarb pie.
  1. commontongue
    commontongue
    Posts: 1864

    Posted 04/27/2012 8:56 PM

    BailBlazer dropped the Gospel. JJ couldnt possibly be most improved. Why ? Because he's a fresh acquisition. When LeBron left Cleveland,he was as heartbroken as a stood up prom date. Im not saying that he doesnt have ferocity,but merely looking at his body of work... or lack thereof.  He is an outstanding back-up, of that there is no doubt, i just think that he's a guy who feeds off of energy. Something that the Blazers lacked. I like this kid,he's a keeper. He's exactly what the dr. ordered as a perfect backup to L.A.. A change of pace. Something that the Blazers had been lacking for quite some time. He made Kurt expendable. He made the Rhino expendable. He's what Chris Johnson needed.However... we still need that guy with the heart of a lion. That Brandonish Royish savage who you fear when the ball is in his hands,because you know that whatever you do, you cant stop him. Thats who we need. The " Dagger ". Ive been waiting to give a Blazer that moniker since Brandon retired,but he is no where to be found. In every late game,i wanted to see the rock in Brandons hands. I ask you, who is that guy ? No X-ray or MRI is ever going to be able to tell us that.

    I am a fan of our new roster playing with and for eachother.
  1. Choong Huh
    Choong Huh
    Posts: 67

    Posted 04/27/2012 8:57 PM

    improved yet still irrelevant is the right description  lol my vote goes to babbit too
    I am a fan of
  1. commontongue
    commontongue
    Posts: 1864

    Posted 04/27/2012 9:29 PM

    I see Babbitt as the poor mans Korver. Kyle had the benefit of growing in a Jerry Sloane system,so he learned his role early.Babbitt on the otherhand grew up in the land of the gambler. Unfortunately for him,he left the bosom of Nevada and came to the NBA, where cats will call your bluff. Defense is what wins championships,and his is suspect. Thats why i appreciated the likes of a Mark Madsen,he new his limitations,but he also recognized his strengths and capatilized on them.Babbitt is a good shooter. He'll become a great one when he realizes that once his one main attribute isnt working,that he has defense to make up for his cold spell. Offense looks good,but when it isnt on, a player,every player has to have that " shut down my man mode". Who we need is that savege who plays for Atlanta. His name escapes me but he is a beast.
    I am a fan of our new roster playing with and for eachother.
  1. commontongue
    commontongue
    Posts: 1864

    Posted 04/27/2012 9:31 PM

    The name i couldnt remember...Ivan johnson. The New Jerome Kersey. Lets go after that cat.
    I am a fan of our new roster playing with and for eachother.
  1. CarlJ1
    CarlJ1
    Posts: 399

    Posted 04/27/2012 10:05 PM

    Sorry I don't think anyone improved with Babbit he just finally got an opportunity we finally saw what he can do when he gets Mins. I need another year from him before I can say he improved with Batum he stayed the same to me of course he made some strides but, not enough to say he improved and with J.J. he came to late but, I loved what he brings and I hope we find a way to keep him. 
    I am a fan of Respect, Loyalty, Honor & Pride the same thing the Blazer & their true fans are made of RIP CITY STAND UP!
  1. schwabbii
    schwabbii
    Posts: 205

    Posted 04/27/2012 10:14 PM

    Luke Babbitt? He hasn't even consistently played until just recently.
    I am a fan of
  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 04/28/2012 2:31 PM

    Posted By schwabbii on 04/27/2012 10:14 PM
    Luke Babbitt? He hasn't even consistently played until just recently.
    But if you watch tape from his rookie season and compare that to game film from this past month, it's night and day. As a rookie, Luke looked lost. His shot was out of whack and he wouldn't even attempt to dribble the ball. Now, along with being a lights out shooter, Luke isn't afraid to put the ball on the ground and make a strong move to the hoop. Looking back, it's night and day.
    I am a fan of
  1. cmeese47
    cmeese47
    Posts: 2735

    Posted 04/28/2012 9:19 PM

    Patty Mills oh wait we cut him loose for nothing.
    I am a fan of Getting Defensive Players This Summer.
  1. postedbailblazers
    postedbailblazers
    Posts: 165

    Posted 04/29/2012 12:27 PM

    Cmeese thrownin Heymakers...nice.  Yeah, retrospect makes that whole situation look pretty bad about now.
    I am a fan of rhubarb pie.
  1. BlazerManiac
    BlazerManiac
    Posts: 777

    Posted 04/29/2012 9:28 PM

    For Batum, he is the most unimproved.
    I am a fan of WES, the heart and soul of the Blazers.
  1. stacksfan2005
    stacksfan2005
    Posts: 363

    Posted 04/30/2012 8:44 AM

    Posted By cmeese47 on 04/28/2012 9:19 PM
    Patty Mills oh wait we cut him loose for nothing.

    x10000000000000
  1. schwabbii
    schwabbii
    Posts: 205

    Posted 04/30/2012 10:05 PM

    Babbitt might look improved but he was always considered an amazing shooter. Many of his teammates said that he was the best outside shooter on the team. Plus wouldn't you play a bit better knowing that you are playing with a team that has no chance of making the playoffs and have less stress to excel? 
    I am a fan of
  1. BDawg
    BDawg
    Posts: 1593

    Posted 05/01/2012 5:47 AM

    The MIP goes to Raymond Felton...without question.


    (Yes, I went and scrubbed my fingertips with bleach water after typing that)
    I am a fan of players that play with PASSION and PRIDE
  1. zkelly0102
    zkelly0102
    Posts: 41

    Posted 05/01/2012 8:41 AM

    I agree with @BDawg to a  certain extent....... he improved so much, but i still dont think we should keep him. we need to use a draft pick for a new PG and get Nash and use Nash to mentor the next PG we will have.. or we can keep flynn! what do you think about that?
    I am a fan of
  1. zkelly0102
    zkelly0102
    Posts: 41

    Posted 05/01/2012 8:41 AM

    I agree with @BDawg to a  certain extent....... he improved so much, but i still dont think we should keep him. we need to use a draft pick for a new PG and get Nash and use Nash to mentor the next PG we will have.. or we can keep flynn! what do you think about that?
    I am a fan of
  1. cmeese47
    cmeese47
    Posts: 2735

    Posted 05/01/2012 11:15 AM

    Luke probably made the biggest improvements but he also had by far the longest ways to go so it is not exactly so important.
    I am a fan of Getting Defensive Players This Summer.
  1. mbmurr1
    mbmurr1
    Posts: 530

    Posted 05/04/2012 7:37 AM

    JJ is still learning the PRO game. sign him now to a 4 year deal. He makes LA's trade inevitable.
    I am a fan of
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 05/05/2012 1:05 AM

    Posted By mbmurr1 on 05/04/2012 7:37 AM

    JJ is still learning the PRO game. sign him now to a 4 year deal. He makes LA's trade inevitable.


    Whaaaaa?? Naaahhh...This is LA's team. We got stuck in the ditch this year, but it won't take much to pop us back on the road.
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. riverman
    riverman
    Posts: 1431

    Posted 05/05/2012 10:52 AM

    Hickson was a beast from the first game he played. I think Babbit was our most improved player this season in the short time he actually got to play. As for the entire season LaMarcus improved this season as much as anyone.
    I am a fan of A team that plays like Tower of Power on a big stage on a good night
  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 05/09/2012 4:25 PM

    The reason Hickson is on this list is because how well he played for us compared to earlier in the season for Sacramento and to a certain extend how he took his game to another level from his 2011 campaign in Cleveland.
    I am a fan of
  1. Niki C
    Niki C
    Posts: 12

    Posted 05/09/2012 7:15 PM

    I don't feel like I could say it is JJ. I have no idea how well he played before. But I figure it is at least similar to the Babbitt situation where he was not given the opportunity to show what he could do. Luke did not get anytime from Coach Nate so of course any playing time is gonna look good in comparison to the minute or so he was given. 

    So most improved has got to go to Luke. Because even if he had the skills all along he is just getting play and learn in an actual game is only going to help him improve. Glad he actually got the chance to show us what he could do none the less. 
    I am a fan of Keeping the Lakers out of the playoffs. And the EPIC Kobe fit that ensues.
  1. commontongue
    commontongue
    Posts: 1864

    Posted 05/09/2012 7:44 PM

    Id drop Babbitt in a NY minute if it meant having to choose between him and JJ.
    I am a fan of our new roster playing with and for eachother.
  1. cmeese47
    cmeese47
    Posts: 2735

    Posted 05/10/2012 11:15 AM

    Totally we should trade Babbitt while he has some value.
    I am a fan of Getting Defensive Players This Summer.
  1. ClydeFrog
    ClydeFrog
    Posts: 975

    Posted 05/11/2012 9:54 AM

    I think it would be foolish to deal Babbitt unless he was part of a blockbuster deal and the other GM said including him is a must for the deal to go on. We need shooters, bottom line. And he has shown the progress this past year that he can be our Kyle Korver off the bench. And he's also learning how to score off the dribble, something half this team can't figure out how to do.
    I am a fan of Watching Elliot Williams Take Flight!
  1. cmeese47
    cmeese47
    Posts: 2735

    Posted 05/13/2012 6:36 PM

    His defense was abysmal there are better two way players that can shoot the ball.
    I am a fan of Getting Defensive Players This Summer.
  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 05/21/2012 10:31 AM

    Congrats to Luke Babbitt for winning the fan's vote as the Most Improved Trail Blazer!
    I am a fan of
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