3 Miami Heat players with a legit shot to win an NBA award

The All-Star break is behind us and award season is amongst us. Three Miami Heat players are in contention for various awards, but will any of them win?

Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs
Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages
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Most Improved

Duncan Robinson, Malik Beasley
Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Besides the Sixth Man of the Year, the Most Improved race is the most intriguing. There are a plethora of ways voters could lean.

One could go the "this guy actually got better" route and reward Bulls guard Coby White. White got 22.6 minutes a game last year, when he was frequently replaced by Ayo Dosunmu in closing moments. The Bulls gave White a fair shot, but he wasn't ready.

It's a different story now. White has a strong case as the Bulls' best player this year. The deep range and overall shot-making jump off the charts. He's gone from averaging less than 10 points per game last season to 19.6 points this season.

Sure, a budding star like Hawks swingman Jalen Johnson got better, but he's getting 20 more minutes a game. His skill improvement is why he plays so much more, but opportunity is as important as skill in these scenarios. 

Tyrese Maxey is the betting favorite. He took the good-to-great leap Ja Morant took back in 2022.

(On a side note, Ja winning ruined the award. He was the second-overall pick, a Rookie of the Year winner, and averaged 30 points a game during his playoff debut. We knew Ja would be a star. It was only a matter of time. Ja winning set a distasteful precedent. The award is for "out of nowhere" players who catch us by surprise -- not rookie sensations who were bound to be All-Stars.)

Maxey may be the fastest player in the league, but he was already good. He didn't bounce back from anything or show massive growth like a Coby White. 2024 Duncan Robinson shows how far hard work and determination can get you. He is the real bounce-back story.

Robinson was out of the rotation for the majority of 2023. He practically made a career-low 61 3-pointers and shot an arctic-cold 33% from deep. He was more like the warm equator in the playoffs, as he shot 41% and made 43 threes through 23 games.

The hot streak carried into 2024, and Robinson is more than back. He has a new game. Robinson has made a career-high 56 shots at the rim, and we're just passing the All-Star break. He's putting the ball on the floor, surveying the court, and attacking closeouts. Robinson is no longer a one-trick pony. Play up too far, and he's going to crush you. This Smitty move shows how far Robinson has come.

Did Robinson actually get better, or is he just getting more minutes? It's a combination of both. Robinson was never going to find his rhythm getting less than 17 minutes a game last year, but he didn't have this handle and confidence either. It's safe to say he got better. I would co-sign Coby White snatching the crown, but a second-half surge could push Robinson to the center of the discussion.

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