Friday, April 5, 2013

Most Improved Player Award: DeAndre Daniels

DeAndre Daniels had an excellent season and the choice for Most Improved Player of the year wasn’t even close this year.  He did have an increase of 17 minutes of playing time per game from last season to this one but he had a lot of pressure on him to contribute more this season with a depleted front court. Last season he was primarily a 3-point threat, taking 50 of his 91 shots from deep, but he showed a much more complimentary style of play this year, using more of a dribble drive to get to the rim, fighting more for rebounds in the paint, and blocking shots on the defensive end.  He ended this season as a legitimate go-to scorer and an NBA prospect which is something no one saw coming in October.

Daniels’ offensive game grew by leaps and bounds.  He wasn't confident with driving to the basket last year, but quickly developed a great first step and took the ball to the rim with authority this season.  He showed a plethora of moves on the wing and could use both hands when driving.  His deep shots usually came as a spot up shooter, but did well when heading towards the basket.  He also had some pretty nasty dunks this year, attacking through contact for finishes.  He has the total package offensively and the scariest part is that he has just scratched the surface.

While Daniels’ offensive game has developed at an incredible clip, he has also shown improvement on the defensive end.  He has displayed the ability to block shots and played much better perimeter defense.  His rebounding has also developed, having several double-double games this season and leading the team in rebounds per game at 5.5.  Once he gets a bit more size, he should be able to consistently get 8-10 rebounds a game by shear athleticism.

Next season will be huge for Daniels.  He has the possibility to play himself into a lottery pick with just a little improvement.  The major issue will be how he handles success since last year there wasn’t a lot of expectation from him, but now he should be a major focal point to the offense and should demand 10-15 shot attempts a game.  He’ll need to work on his jumper to make it more consistent, find ways to get to the line more, and get more opportunities through offensive rebounds.

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