Success at the NBA level is predicated upon improvement.
Though every player in the Association has room for growth, some players have more room to elevate their standing than others.
Plenty of the league's athletes have failed to establish a clear-cut identity for themselves thus far. Cultivating skill sets and sharpening deficiencies is a way for players to change that, a way for them to enhance their reputation.
And nothing advances a player's influence like laying claim to the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. Just ask Ryan Anderson. Or Kevin Love.
Winning said honor is a source of immediate distinction. It changes nearly everyone's perspective of an athlete's ceiling; it serves as an affirmation that a player is on a proven path to success.
But such an adulation doesn't come easy. Only the players who have taken their game to new and self-unprecedented heights can be considered.
Who in the NBA fits such a bill, to the point where this particular award is within reach early on?
Let's find out.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of December 20, 2012.