When looking at NBA players who have improved, it’s easy to mix up players who just got more playing time with players who have truly upgraded their games.
Hypothetically, say two players increase their scoring from 15 to 20 points per game. One is playing the same number of minutes as he did the previous year. The other is playing twice as many minutes. Which one has actually improved?
In order to determine which players have truly upgraded their games, the best tool to measure with isn’t traditional box-score stats like points, rebounds and assists because they don’t account for minutes. Player efficiency rating (PER)—John Hollinger’s per-minute, single-number metric—does a much better job of evaluating improvement.
While some may argue that it has certain flaws or positional biases, those “flaws” remain consistent for each player from year to year. So, since we’re evaluating improvement, positional biases are moot. We’re only looking at the same player’s PER from one year to the next.
To determine the most improved players, I looked at players who were qualified for the PER title and in the top 100 in PER who had improved the most. They are ranked here by how much they improved in the metric from last year.
All stats are current as of February 20 and obtained from Basketball-Reference.com.