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Ridiculous Upside’s 2019-20 G League Most Improved Player of the Year Finalists

Ridiculous Upside announces their finalists for Most Improved Player of the Year

Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Paul Watson - Raptors 905: 19 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 49% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 7.2 attempts per game.

During the first two years of his pro career, Paul Watson was a solid but yet forgettable wing for the Westchester Knicks. Anchored by athleticism and a decent perimeter jumper, he averaged 8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1 assists per game on 44% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc during the 2018-19 season. Although he started in 42 of the 50 games that he played for the team, his stats were limited due to Westchester’s bevy of offensive talents pushing his Usage Percentage (US%) to be at 12.3%, which placed him above only three other players.

After two years with the team, Westchester traded Watson and a third-round pick to the Raptors 905 in exchange for the returning rights to forward JJ Moore and the 4th overall pick in that year’s G League Draft. Although the 905 gave up a lot to receive the Fresno State alum, they ended up getting the better of that deal. In 30 games with the team, the forward averaged a career-best 19 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 49% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 7.2 attempts per game. That efficiency from deep was surprising as his previous best three-point percentage came during his freshman year at Fresno State where he shot 38% from beyond the arc.

Watson’s tremendous play for the 905 led to the veteran receiving a 10-day from the Atlanta Hawks on January 6th. Although the team waived him on the 14th, he didn’t have to wait long for another NBA contract as the Raptors signed him to a two-way in the following day. Just one year after being an overlooked part of Westchester, it’s honestly amazing to see him make a sudden improvement to the point where he’s a two-way player on one of the best organizations in the NBA.

Gabe Vincent - Sioux Falls Skyforce/Stockton Kings: 21.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals on 45% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc on on 10.3 attempts per game

While Watson was a solid but yet overlooked part of the Westchester Knicks in 2018-19, it wasn’t exactly the same thing for the former UC Santa Barbara standout. As a rookie, the 6’3 guard struggled mightily by putting up 8.7 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds with a 47% True Shooting Percentage. Those struggles had a lot to do with struggling with injuries as he only played in 24 games with the team.

After a healthy summer where he had success for Nigeria in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Vincent looked like a completely different player when the 2019-20 season began. That statement is seen by how he averaged 23.8 points, 4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals on 47% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 10.7 attempts per game. Those great numbers allowed him to maintain a career-best 64% True Shooting Percentage.

That tremendous play put an end to his time with Stockton as the Miami Heat signed him to a two-way deal on January 8th. While that efficient shooting took a slight drop as a member of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, as he maintained a 59% True Shooting Percentage, his collective play during the 2019-20 campaign after the rookie year allows Vincent to be an undeniable candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year.

Jaylen Adams - Wisconsin Herd: 21.5 points, 5.4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals on 49% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 6.6 attempts per game

“Hey Dakota, how on earth could you have Jaylen Adams as a candidate for Most Improved Playerof the Year when he was 48th on your “Top 50 G League Players for the 2019-20 Season” list? That’s a tremendous question, person with great memory! While Jaylen was a solid player for Erie that had some outstanding games, the 6’2 struggled with efficiency as he maintained a below-average 52% True Shooting Percentage.

Despite being a more significant part of the Wisconsin Herd’s offense, as his USG% grew from 21.7% to 25.7%, Adams evolved into one of the best and most effective guards in the G League. This evolution comes from how he progressed as both a perimeter shooter and from within the restricted area.

In regards to his knack as a beyond the arc threat, his three-point percentage grew from 34% as a rookie to 40% during this past season. Despite being a smaller 6’2, 190 pound guard was fantastic at scoring around the rim during his time with Wisconsin. On a total of 153 attempts, Adams shot 67% from within the restricted area, an eight-percent improvement over how he performed in that area as a rookie.

Trevon Bluiett - SLC Stars: 14.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 49% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 6.4 attempts per game

After a stellar career with the University of Xavier, which included him being named to the AP All-American 2nd team during his senior year. That tremendous college career made the less than stellar start of his pro career a little surprising. As a two-way player for the New Orleans Pelicans, he put up 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on 40% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc on 5.7 attempts per game in separate stints with the SLC Stars and Westchester Knicks. Those averages allowed him to maintain a 54% True Shooting Percentage, the worst number since his freshman season.

After that rookie year, the Pelicans waived Bluiett on July 15th. A month later, the Jazz signed the 6’6 wing to an exhibit 10 on August 21st. While that was a step down from the deal he had as a rookie, it actually ended up being a benefit for the 2nd year player.

As a member of a deep Salt Lake City Stars team, he was able to relax and establish himself as a reliable 3-and-D threat that you can rely on whether he’s in the starting lineup or the 2nd unit. From an offensive perspective, he made tremendous strides as he averaged 14.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists on 49% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 6.4 attempts per game. Another example of his impact is seen from how the Stars were six points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court (111.1 points per 100) compared to when he was sitting on the bench (104.9 points per 100).

Vitto Brown - Erie BayHawks: 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 46% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts per game

Following a four-year career with the University of Wisconsin, where he started 71 games, Brown stumbled out of the gate during his rookie year as he shared time with the Wisconsin Herd, AC Clippers, and Maine Red Claws. It was the Maine Red Claws where the forward started to turn the corner as he stood as a solid rotation forward for the team in 2018-19 where he averaged 10.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1 assists on 41% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc on 5.8 attempts per game.

Despite his solid play with Maine, the team traded the forward in late October to the Erie BayHawks in exchange for the returning rights of Codi Miller-McIntyre. Although the team struggled this year by finishing 13-30, that trade ended up paying big dividends for the team. That’s due to Brown establishing himself as one of the better all-around forwards in the league by putting up 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 46% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts per game.

As a rookie, Brown was a tryout participant that struggled to get playing time and bounced around with three different teams. Two years later, he’s been able to push himself to the point of being a legitimate call-up candidate before a global pandemic put a premature end to the G League season.