Who is the PBA’s most improved player?

apr232007_pj_simon.jpgWhat do [tag]Carlo Sharma[/tag], [tag]Denver Lopez[/tag], [tag]Gary David[/tag], [tag]PJ Simon[/tag] have in common? Well, all of them are in the running for the yearend most improved player plum. It’s not simply a jump in scoring, rebounding or in any statistical average. The award is given to a player who has made the most improvement in terms of overall game and has contributed to his team’s success the current season.

apr232007_denver_lopez.jpgLast year, it was [tag]Marc Pingris[/tag] (2005-06 PBA Philippine Cup finals MVP and 2005-06 Defensive Player of the Year) who won the award. Pingris saw his averages in points, rebounds and block shots jump from 4.63ppg, 3.1rppg, 0.38bpg to 8.9ppg, 8.5rpg, 1.63bpg. More importantly, he played a pivotal part in the Giants’ two finals stint in the 2005-06 season. This year, Sharma, Lopez, Baguio, David and PJ Simon have equal chances of winning the same award. Denver Lopez went from a draft bust (a highly-hyped rookie out of Colorado) to a starter at the point for the Welcoat Dragons.

apr232007_gary_david.jpgHe’s the PBA’s most accurate three-point shooter and the leader for the young Dragons squad. Gary David, on the other hand, has officially proved that Air21 management didn’t err in trading [tag]Renren Ritualo[/tag] late last year. Ritualo got the axe as management deemed Canaleta and David would be nice centerpieces and are better investments compared to the gun slinger from DLSU.

Coming out of an injury, David more than made up for the slack left by Ritualo by contributing his share of points, rebounds, assists, and (take note) defensive plays, and more importantly essayed the role of a leader in the Express’ roster. He is the most productive local scorer in the current Fiesta Cup, highlighted by a 32-point outbursts (his career-high) in a 107 – 103 Express victory over Purefoods last March 23. If David’s play has given the Express a shot in the hand, the same thing can be said of the 6-0 Peter June Simon. Simon has been a picture of consistency for the Giants. He has scored in double figures in most of the games he played this year and there were several stretches in the game that the team would look to him whenever they needed points in a hurry.

apr232007_carlo_sharma.jpgOf the lot, it is Carlo Sharma’s surprising play who is making heads turn. Given up for dead after two forgettable seasons with Shell and San Miguel, Sharma made coach Yeng Guiao look like a genius with his annual reclamation project. Sharma is not only hitting his shots from mid-range, putbacks and dunks, he is also getting his fair share of the rebounding load and primary source of inside strength. He is my hands-down choice as the most improved player this year not only for Red Bull but for the entire league as well but why do I get the feeling that Gary David gonna take this crown at yearend?

Pic credits: