Ryan Anderson saw a golden opportunity this season when he finally got a chance to become a starter. And boy, did he take great advantage of it.
The Magic sharp-shooting forward was announced the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year for this season on Friday, averaging 16 points and nearly eight rebounds per game. He also shot 39-percent from behind-the-arc.
The 23-year-old was one of the big keys in helping Orlando make the playoffs in a drama-filled season surrounded by Dwight Howard, but he was able to overcome it.
"It's very surreal for me to be sitting where I am today," Anderson said. "A year ago if you would have said I would be the Most Improved Player, I'd probably laugh at you in the face. This year has just been a culmination of a lot of different things and a lot of different people helping me."
Behind Anderson was Ersan Ilyavosa of the Bucks and then Nikola Pekovic of the Timberwolves. Orlando GM Otis Smith is very proud of the player Anderson has become.
"He did the work and made himself into a better basketball player," Smith said. "He's in the first part of receiving his dividends. ... He's making me look like a genius for making the trade."
Anderson is currently trying to get Orlando into the second round of the NBA Playoffs over the Indiana Pacers, without Dwight Howard. They currently trail 2-1, and will face Indiana on Saturday.
Although I do congratulate Anderson on the award, it's kind of surprising to see him win it. Honestly, he was the same player as last season. The only difference is that the stats were boosted. Jared Wade over at Eight Points, Nine Seconds makes a great point here
Not trying to say Anderson is a bad player. He is great, but I just don't think he should have won it. I honestly feel Andrew Bynum was a more deserving candidate. Overall, I was surprised to see the NBA voters pick him.
Would have thought Jeremy Lin would have won with his popularity.
Anways, congrats Ryan!