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A plethora of NBA players are having breakout performances worthy of the Most Improved Player award. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that the two players with the best resume for the award so far are Omer Asik of the Houston Rockets and Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Both Holiday and Asik are having career seasons, helping to lead underdog teams to respectable records and proving that they belong among the NBA’s elite with their consistent play.
What sets Asik apart, however, is the fact that he’s starting and playing big minutes for the first time in his NBA career. By contrast, Holiday started 51 of 73 games during his rookie season, all 82 games his sophomore season and 65 games last season, so he’s been in a position to succeed before.
Also, despite Holiday's success so far this season, he's leading the entire league in turnovers, averaging 3.7 per game. The young point guard has been great in other areas, but his turnovers have been a major area for concern.
It’s nice to see Holiday embrace his great potential this season, but it’s more impressive that Asik has done the same thing in Houston in his first opportunity as an NBA starter (while having to justify a big contract, no less).
Again, both of these stars are worthy of Most Improved Player honors. Asik grabbed 17 rebounds in a blowout against the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 31 and followed that effort up with 21 points and eight rebounds in a win against the New Orleans Hornets.
Holiday notched 26 points and 10 assists in a big win against the Los Angeles Lakers on New Year’s Day and followed it up with a triple-double in a tough road loss to the Phoenix Suns.
It will be interesting to see whether Asik’s body will hold up down the stretch given the amount of minutes he’s been playing for the Rockets this season. If he runs out of gas, Holiday will have the advantage.
Previous Favorite: Omer Asik
In the hunt: Jrue Holiday, Kemba Walker, J.J. Hickson, Greivis Vasquez