When the NBA G League announced that Houston Rockets two-way player Anthony Lamb won the league’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, I was confused. A lot of that came from how the stud forward was a rookie this year that spent last season winning the America East Player of the Year as a member of the University of Vermont. Despite how the award looks to “honor the player who demonstrated the most significant improvement over the course of the regular season”, it has usually been given to players with prior G League experience like past winners Gabe Vincent or DaQuan Jones that made big strides from one year to another
Even if we’re taking the words that the league uses in its more literal perspective, Lamb’s case is still questionable. Because while the prospect that was with the Canton Charge in the first week and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the final three were different from a statistical perspective, there’s significant reason behind that.
When he was with the Charge, Lamb struggled for playing time as he played in six of a possible nine games, where he only played a total of 56 minutes. Although his 48% effective field goal percentage during that time was low, it’s not a significant amount of a sample size to determine anything. Considering Canton’s slew of wing and forward depth, that included veterans like Sheldon Mac, Malachi Richardson, Antonio Blakeney, Sir’Dominic Pointer, and Levi Randolph, Lamb’s future with the team seemed to remain on the bench unless one of those players got injured or called up.
Luckily for the prospect, his unfortunate predicament was recognized as the Charge traded him to the Vipers along with the Stockton Kings 2nd round pick in the 2021-22 G League Draft in exchange for the OKC Blue’s 2021-22 1st round. As evident from the fact that he’s one of Houston’s two-way prospects, Lamb was excellent once he first put on a Vipers uniform.
In six games with the team, he averaged 18.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game on 56% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc on 5.2 attempts per game. With those numbers, a very nice 69% True Shooting Percentage and fantastic 65% effective Field Goal Percentage. That fantastic production, which he was able to accomplish through a versatile offensive arsenal combined with solid defense to stand as one of the best prospects in the G League. His elite status ultimately pushed Houston to sign him to a two-way deal on March 8th, on the same day that his Vipers were eliminated in the G League playoffs by the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Despite Lamb’s elite play and how he’s definitely at a better stage of his career now compared to the start of the G League season, I’m still not a fan of the G League awarding him with their Most Improved Player of the Year award. However, I’ve decided to give you five prospects who are in contention for our Most Improved Player of the Year award, which is scheduled to be announced next month. Along with their names, I’ve also left you with their numbers from the 2021 bubble season and the 2019-20 campaign.
Ahmad Caver - Memphis Hustle
2019-20 statistics: 10 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals on 43% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc on 3.1 attempts per game. 56% True Shooting Percentage%, 49% effective Field Goal Percentage%
2021 statistics: 16.5 points, 3.8 assists, 4.13 rebounds, and 1.7 steals on 53% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc on 2.7 attempts per game. 63% TS%. 57% eFG%
Jared Harper - Westchester Knicks
2019-20 statistics with Northern Arizona Suns: 20.9 points, 5.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals on 41% from the field and 36% from 3 on 7.4 attempts per game. 59% TS%, 50% eFG%
2020-21 statistics: 21.3 points, 6.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds on 47% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 6 attempts per game. 64% TS%, 55% eFG%
Armoni Brooks - Rio Grande Valley Vipers
2019-20 statistics with College Park Skyhawks: 10.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists on 45% from the field and 40% from 3 on 5.6 attempts per game. 61% TS%, 58% eFG%
2020-21 statistics: 16.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.1 steals on 43% from the field and 38% from beyond the arc on 10.1 attempts per game. 61% TS%, 57% eFG%
Oshae Brissett - Fort Wayne Mad Ants:
2019-20 statistics with Raptors 905: 15.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1 steal per game on 42% from the field and 28% from 3. 56% TS%, 47% eFG%
2020-21 statistics: 18.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists on 44% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game. 59% TS% 51% eFG%
Moses Brown - OKC Blue
2020-21 statistics: 18.5 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks on 55% from the field. 62% TS%, 55% eFG%
2019-20 statistics with Texas Legends: 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on 64% from the field. 63% TS%, 55% eFG%