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Who could be the NBL’s most improved player of this season? Here are 6 contenders

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NBL Most Improved contenders 2023-24

Which NBL stars have elevated their game to another level throughout the opening stanza of the 2023 season? Our basketball expert Jo Healy runs her eye over the league’s most improved player frontrunners.

As always, Australia’s premier basketball competition, the NBL, is rife with competition.

Even with the increased toughness of the competition, some of its most promising stars have been able to improve immensely over the course of the season so far.

Interestingly, since it was first awarded in 1988, no foreigner has ever won the NBL’s Most Improved Player award. On top of this, just one player, Keanu Pinder of the Cairns Taipans, has won the award twice — the power forward won it in consecutive seasons beginning in 2021-22.

Having already provided her top picks for the NBL’s top honour, the Most Valuable Player award, broadcaster Jo Healy returns with her early-season leading candidates for the league’s Most Improved Player honour.

dejan vasiljevic, nbl most improved
Former Kings guard Dejan Vasiljevic has been forced to step up since joining Adelaide. Is he in the hunt for the Most Improved award?

Who are the NBL’s Most Improved Player contenders?

Lat Mayen, Cairns Taipans

Lat Mayen has elevated his game this season, becoming a key part of the Taipans rotation as their go-to sixth man. Adam Forde has given Mayan a license to attack, resulting in a new level of confidence and aggression on the court.

The 6”9 forward has jumped from averaging 2.9 points and two rebounds per game to 10.3 points and five boards, and he doesn’t look like slowing down.

Jaylin Galloway, Sydney Kings

Granted Jaylin Galloway has been out injured for five of the Kings’ first eleven games, but his performances so far have proved that he’s well and truly taken a leap this season. Promoted to a starting position under coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah, Galloway has not only doubled his scoring output, but his defensive prowess has also improved.

So impressive have his performances been, some pundits have him in the running for both the MIP and Defensive Player of the Year – and that’s after just six games.

Luke Travers, Melbourne United

A move east in the off-season has been a breath of fresh air for Luke Travers, who was drafted to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2022 before returning to the Wildcats the next season. Since joining United, Travers has looked refreshed and more confident with his game, helping them sit on top of the ladder with a 10 and two record.

Travers himself is averaging almost 12 points and eight rebounds while also playing a more significant role than his previous seasons in the west. 

DJ Vasiljevic, Adelaide 36ers

As one of the Kings’ key players during their back-to-back championships, it’s hard to imagine DJ Vasiljevic on the list of most improved.

However, since joining the 36ers a few games into this season, the 26-year-old sharp shooter has stepped up to the role of go-to guy, averaging a career-high 19.2 points a game, up from 13.4 points per game last season.

Ty Harrison, Brisbane Bullets

Big man Ty Harrison has made a big jump in minutes this season, and his stats tell the tale. Offensively he’s scoring 9.7 points on average compared to 5.2 in 2022-23.

His rebounding, blocks and steals are all up too. Brisbane have one of the strongest front courts in the league, and Harrison is a key part of that.

Hyrum Harris, Perth Wildcats

His stats won’t show just how much of an impact Hyrum Harris is having for the Wildcats since being brought into the starting line up back in round six. The small forward is playing a much more active role, crashing the glass and pressuring his opponent defensively. If he continues like this, he’ll be in the MIP conversation at the end of the season.

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