Could Knicks star guard win the 2024 Most Improved Player of the Year award?

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after his three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks could see their second Most Improved Player of the Year award recipient in franchise history this season. Their one and only winner was Julius Randle, who took home the award at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season. This year, the Knicks have a special contributor whose case looks strong.

Can Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo win the 2024 Most Improved Player of the Year award?

Knicks shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo has an outside shot of earning the MIP crown from voters. That’s how Jeremy Brener of Fan Nation’s All Knicks sees it when he advanced Andy Bailey of The Athletic’s stance on DiVincenzo being the team’s most improved player. Bailey noted this key caveat that strengthens the Villanova product’s case:

“Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic are the only players in the league averaging more threes per game than DiVincenzo, and the Knicks guard is also providing at least a little punch defensively,” Bailey said.

DiVincenzo has long been a valued outside shooter. Though, he’s taken his marksmanship to the next level this season.

Not only is the 27-year-old shooting a career-high 40.2% from the three-point line in 2023-24, he’s invoked change in the Knicks’ floor spacing. The team’s offense runs much better with DiVincenzo on the floor. His ability to move without the ball and rotate to open spots off of slashing opportunities has made him a steady target to kick out to in the half-court.

The Delaware native’s volume stroke from outside helped him break the franchise’s single-season three-pointers made record this year. He currently stands at 278 makes with the Knicks slated to play their season finale against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

DiVincenzo’s improvement can also be attributed to his elevated role in the offense and his career-high 28.9 minutes per game this season. Albeit, the MIP award goes to the player that shows the greatest statistical growth year-over-year the vast majority of the time, unlike some of the other regular season awards.

Who is DiVincenzo’s competition for the MIP award?

He’ll have to beat out frontrunner Coby White (Chicago Bulls), as well as first-time All-Star Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia 76ers), Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City Thunder), Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets) and Jonathan Kuminga (Golden State Warriors).

A panel of writers from made their picks for the award. Maxey led the way with three votes, followed by Williams with two and White with one.

Maxey has taken the jump from a steady No. 4 option on a contending team to a legitimate All-NBA candidate. He’s improved by 5.6 points and 3.7 assists per game. However, White has shown the starkest growth as a scorer, jumping by 9.3 points per game. His maturation has also come as the biggest surprise this year.

Williams has also grown 5.1 PPG as a scorer, and even more in the efficiency department, raising his field goal percentage to 53.9% and his three-point clip from an average of 35.6% in 2022-23 to an elite 42.7% in this current campaign.

Does DiVincenzo stand out from other outside contenders and frontrunners for the MIP award?

Outside contenders like Kuminga, who’s risen by 6.4 PPG, and Sengun, who has taken his 14.8 PPG to 21.1 PPG this season and emerged as an elite distributing center at five assists per game, all have merit.

Ultimately, DiVincenzo’s six-point jump from 9.4 PPG to 15.4 PPG will be his biggest calling card. He’ll likely see votes next to his name on the ballot, but it remains to be seen if the Knicks’ sharpshooter will trump his counterparts around the league with diminished rebounding and assist averages working against him.

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