There are a lot of candidates for the MIP Improved Player award this season, but one name that I haven’t heard yet in the convo: Jake Layman. His raw stats might not be as impressive at first glance as some of these other dudes, but that’s a matter of looking at things the wrong way. Instead of looking at where he’s ended up, we should be looking at where he started.
I’m still confused as to why the Blazers would give this guy another contract, because he sucked DING DONG his first two seasons. His basketball-reference page tells the whole sad story: sub-30 percent shooting his first two years in the league, negative win-shares, no production even considering his lack of minutes. That’s where he was starting from, a starting point way lower than the other MIP candidates.
Nowadays, he’s a sometimes-starter on a playoff team, shooting 54 percent from the field, scoring 15 points per 36. His neck per 36 is the highest in the league. He makes highlight plays all the time. Every game, he’s doing something special with his athleticism (4 blocks today, don’t even think about shooting threes with him in the vicinity). All told, he’s a nice rotation player and is helping his team win games. A totally unexpected state for him to be in considering his previous play.