Making strides to improve is what fuels the NBA—the will to get better, the desire to compete. Every year there are a few players who stand out among a crowd of players who have improved over the year.
But only one can win the award.
Aaron Brooks was selected last year for his efforts, and here's a look at who has one the award in the past decade:
As you can see, some pretty good players stem from winning this award. Keep that in mind as you look through my list of the most likely candidates to win the award next year.
The vast majority of players do improve from their rookie seasons, which is why not too many sophomores win this award.
But coming in this year as the probable starting point guard for Philadelphia he has the talent and potential to do it.
It may be tough sharing minutes with Louis Williams, but when Williams got injured last year, Holiday came to the plate.
For the month of March he averaged 13.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists while struggling with consistency issues.
But take a look at his season highs:
Holiday will get a few steals each game, something very valuable to the backcourt defense of the 76ers. He has the weapons to take some steps in Chris Paul's shoes.
With Manu Ginobili likely to prefer coming off the bench, George Hill looks like the best option for San Antonio to start at SG. We all saw Hill's impact on the Spurs' playoff run last year, coming up big against Dallas (29 points) and just being a key role player in games when the Big Three couldn't get it going.
In games coming off the bench last year (35 games), George Hill averaged 8.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.
In the 43 games he started, he averaged 15.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. His production almost doubled.
More than just the points he can score, Hill will provide the fresh legs San Antonio needs and will play a big role in the success of the Spurs.
This talented lottery pick from a year ago can definitely play. However, he had a mediocre rookie season on a less-than-mediocre New Jersey Nets team.
On the brighter side, the team looks improved, with a decent starting five now. Terrence Williams looks to find his role as small forward, where he has the potential to grow as a player.
The real reason for his major upside and potential to win Most Improved next year is the way he turned up his game at the end of last season. In the months of March and April, he averaged 14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.6 assists.
The kid can do a lot with the ball, as seen by his triple-double performance mid-April: 27 points, 13 rebounds, ten assists. Also with the departure of G/F Chris Douglas-Roberts, Williams should get plenty of minutes.
If Roy Hibbert can establish himself as Indiana's No. 1 center and develop a better player-coach rapport with Jim O'Brien, he can become a solid option for the Pacers.
He started off the season averaging a double-double for several weeks before running into playing time issues and problems with the coach.
But with his season highs of 29 points, 13 rebounds, as well as many games with five or six blocked shots, he could become a second or third tier center in the NBA.
Now that Amar'e Stoudemire is gone, Robin Lopez is looking the favorite to run pick-and-rolls with Steve Nash. This should open up a lot of opportunities for Lopez put some points on the board.
More than offensively, Robin Lopez's defense has the potential to have a great impact on the game for the Suns. He is a solid shot blocker (games of four, five, even six blocked shots in a game), which has Phoenix excited about his presence.
Shown last season that when given the minutes he deserves, he can produce. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.2 rebounds as a starter (with Amare in the lineup) with outbreak games of 30 points/12 rebounds.
If Robin Lopez adds more to his offensive game this year, he can be the complete package.
We all know there is a humongous void left by LeBron James in Cleveland, and many think J.J. Hickson may be the one to pick up some slack.
He scored 20 points or more in eight games (alongside LeBron, mind you), and had 10 or more rebounds in six games, with a season high of 16.
I see Hickson scoring a lot more points, and becoming more of an active leader for the Cavaliers next season.
D.J. Augustin actually had a better rookie season than he did last year (only getting about 18 minutes of playing time per game) sharing time with Raymond Felton and Stephen Jackson clogging up minutes at the two spot.
But now the starting point guard job is all to him due to Felton's New York State of Mind.
What I see for 2010-2011 are the flashes of his greatness in his rookie season (i.e. 25 points, 11 assists all the while hitting bunches of threes) but with more consistency.
He will do a better job of facilitating this team than Felton did, with plenty of assist opportunities to Jackson/Wallace/Thomas.
Andray Blatche came alive last season when all the other Wizards seemed to have died. Somewhere around All-Star break he earned a starting job (Antawn Jamison departs for Cleveland), and his first game on the job: 33 points, 13 rebounds.
He finished off the season averaging 22.1 points and 8.3 rebounds in 32 games post All-Star break, averaging over 20 points and eight rebounds in each of the three final months of the season.
He should be starting every game this coming year and has the potential to average 22 points and 10 rebounds. Some replacement for Jamison, huh?
Over the course of his four year career Paul Millsap has averaged 15.9 points and 9.9 rebounds in 49 games as a starter. The only problem has been Carlos Boozer.
But now he's gone and his replacement, Al Jefferson, will be playing a lot of center.
Paul Millsap can now start for the Utah Jazz, something we've all been waiting for ever since Boozer got injured in late November and through December of 2008. Paul Millsap posted 16 straight double-doubles, averaging 18.6 points, and 11.5 rebounds over that span.
Millsap will finally get his chance to shine in Utah, lookout for a humongous season. And I would have put him at No. 1 but it's not so much that he's "improved" he's just finally getting the minutes.
If Randolph can stay healthy for the New York Knicks, look forward to his name standing out in box scores (next to Stoudemire's, of course).
He has one of the best NBA bodies and can get things done on both sides of the ball. He can score (season high 28), he can rebound (season high 14) and he can block shots (season high of eight).
Now in New York, he doesn't have to deal with Don Nelson's lineup shuffling or the shared minutes in Golden State. He will be starting at power forward, and he does have a solid backup in Wilson Chandler, but Randolph seems to be the No. 1 option.
He could average 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks next season.