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Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young Candidates for Most Improved and Sixth Man

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Links

NBA Award Watch - ESPN

Thaddeus Young Player Card - Basketball Reference

Jrue Holiday Player Card - Basketball Reference

Thaddeus Young Player Card - Hoop Data

Jrue Holiday Player Card - Hoop Data

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Most Improved Player Of The Year Watch

T-4. Jrue Holiday, Sixers, and D.J. Augustin, Bobcats: Point guard is the hardest position to get a handle on in the league, and these two young ones have done it under the watchful eyes of demanding coaches in Doug Collins and Larry Brown, respectively. Holiday's assists are up from 3.8 to 6.8 per game, and Augustin's are up from 2.4 to 6.3. Each has increased his scoring by more than five points per game, too, meaning each is helping out with more than 10 points of additional offense this season.

Jrue has improved his PER from 12.3 to 15.0, and cut his TOV% from 21.9 to 18.0. He also has as many defensive win shares (1.0) through 26 games as he had all of last season. 

Jrue's improved efficiency can be accredited to many things, but the fact that he's taking more shots inside of 10 feet this year (50% of his shots) than he was last year (39%) helps. He's also increased his free throw rate (0.17 to 0.26) and And1% (1.7 to 3.3) significantly. 

Sixth Man Of The Year Watch

5. Thaddeus Young, Sixers: Young has been playing a lot better for Doug Collins lately, averaging almost 13 points and five rebounds a game.

Thad has career highs in PER (19.6), DREB% (15.9), AST% (8.4), and a career low in TOV% (8.0) and DRtg (104). He's still only 22 years old, and trending upward. After back-to-back disappointing seasons following his promising rookie year, Thad looks to be back on track to reach his full potential.

I've written about Thad's hot start here, and Derek has added his two cents here. I stand by my claim that Thad's offensive efficiency will drop considerably as the season progresses. His improvements in passing, defense and rebounding appear legitimate, however.