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NBA 2021/22: Five early contenders for the Most Improved Player award

47 days into the 2021/22 NBA season with each team having played at least 21 games, it’s still early days but enough time for players to make lasting impressions.

Some players have impressed more than others and outperformed expectations thus putting themselves in contention for recognition at the end of the season.

Here are five players making early cases for the Most Improved Player of the year award in alphabetical order. 


I was only going to focus on players who have helped their teams achieve a winning record so far but Dejounte Murray stood out so well I had to make an exception.

The Spurs are 8-13 and three games behind a play-in spot but Murray has provided a rare cause for optimism. The point guard finally started to look like an NBA point guard last season and the progression hasn’t stopped.

Now in his sixth season, Dejounte Murray is averaging a career-best in all major stats. 19 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.2 assists across 21 games.

Dejounte Murray this season: 19.1 PPG 8.5 RPG (1st among guards) 8.1 APG (7th in league) 2.0 SPG (5th in league) All career-highs. — StatMuse (@statmuse) November 30, 2021

He’s also earning league-wide recognition for his efforts as he ranks in the top 20 for multiple stats. Murray has the 16th most defensive rebounds in the NBA and if you consider that impressive, there’s more.

He’s sixth in assists, seventh in assists per game, sixth in steals, and fifth in steals per game.


After winning rookie of the year and leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs last season, Ja Morant has stepped up a notch this season.

His ability is no secret but Morant seems to have made the jump from a good young player to being one of the best players in the league period.

He’s currently out with a knee injury which has kept him out of the Grizzlies’ last four games. But Ja Morant did more than enough in the 19 games he played to earn an early MIP consideration.

24 points, 6.6 assists, and 5.6 rebounds across 19 games is impressive, helping the Grizzlies to a 13-10 record.

At some point in the season, Morant (a 6’2 point guard) led the league in paint points. Despite missing the last four games, Morant is still top 20 in the NBA in so many categories. 

Points per game (13th), assists (17th), assists per game (12th), and steals per game (14th) are some of the categories.


Jordan Poole started a total of 21 regular-season games in his first two seasons with the Golden State Warriors. In less than two months, he has started all 23 games for the joint-best team in the NBA right now.

Not only is Jordan Poole starting, but he’s also been leading Steph Curry’s support cast. Poole has deputized adequately for the injured Klay Thompson at Shooting Guard by playing differently. His 35% from three-point range is far from Klay Thompson’s level of efficiency but Poole has proven useful in Steve Kerr’s system.