Analyst predicts Trey Murphy III will be next Most Improved Player

Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz’s All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen has been named the 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year (MIP).

Markkanen is more than deserving of this honor. After an awkward stint with the Chicago Bulls, Markkanen was acquired in a sign-and-trade by the Cleveland Cavaliers and emerged as a solid starter in his lone season with the team.

However, in order to acquire star guard Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers were forced to trade Markkanen to Utah during the 2022 off-season. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Markkanen, as it was there that he transformed himself from a solid starter to a bonafide All-Star.

This season, Markkanen averaged 25.6 PPG and 8.6 RPG on 64% True Shooting. This spike represented a massive leap from last year’s already modest outputs (14.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG on 58.2% True Shooting). A huge congrats goes out to Markkanen on winning the award. It was well-deserved.

So…who will be the next player to win the MIP award?

Predicting future MIP winners is always incredibly difficult because to win the award, a player needs to make an unexpected leap. With that said, sometimes you can see signs in the season prior that indicate a player is poised for a breakout (like Markkanen showing his ability to contribute to winning while on Cleveland in 2021-22).

If you ask The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, next year’s MIP winner may be the New Orleans Pelicans very own sweet-shooting forward, Trey Murphy III. This is what O’Connor had to about Murphy’s case as a potential candidate for the MIP award next season on his show, “Beyond the Arc”:

"“Could Pelicans’ Trey Murphy become the second player in NBA history after Lauri Markkanen to log over 200 threes and over 100 dunks in a single season? At age-22, Murphy had 202 threes and 85 dunks. As a 40% shooter from three, he displays skill coming off screens, handoffs, and relocations. He received only 6.3 attempts from three per game, but Pelicans’ Head Coach Willie Green ramped that up closer to ten tries per game to close the year. That volume could spark a big increase in scoring in the future. A lot of mouths to feed on the Pelicans, but Murphy has flashed pull-up shooting off-the-dribble. If he continues tightening his handle, he can mix in some on-ball scoring with his current ability to attack closeouts to finish loudly at the basket. As a high-leaper, the Pelicans should also call more set plays for him as a roller and cutter, going inside since he can sky over the defense with ease. With more usage and a bit more seasoning to his skills, an offensive explosion for Murphy is inevitable.”"

To piggyback off of O’Connor’s comments, massive offensive explosions (particularly scoring ones) are usually what gain recognition for this award. Murphy already increased his scoring from 5.4 PPG in 2021-22 to 14.5 PPG in 2022-23. If he can balloon that number up into the 20s next season, he’ll have a real shot at following in Markkanen’s footsteps and winning the MIP award.

Next. 10 Players the Pelicans gave up on way too soon. dark