Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas finished 11th for the award and Cousins finished 17th. Neither received any first places votes; Thomas had three second-place votes while Cousins had one. As a note, none of those votes came from Jason Jones, our local media rep in the vote (at least stats guru Zach Lowe of Grantland voted Cousins 2nd).
Team success always plays a part in these things, but should Thomas and Cousins have received more consideration? Dragic indeed had a huge jump in PER and WinShares (+3.9 to 21.4 and 4.6 to 10.7), but so did Cousins (+6.1 to 26.2 and +3.5 to 7.9) and Thomas (+3 to 20.5 and +2.7 to 7.7). It should be noted that both beat Lance Stephenson (+2.9 to 14.7 and +1.9 to 7.4) by these metrics.
The sad thing is that these results indicate that both Cousins and Thomas have received little acknowledgement for their tremendous individual play. It's no surprise that Dragic won the award; he carried the surprising Suns to playoff contention after being subject to trade rumors and early on. However, Cousins had a closer comparison in Anthony Davis. Davis had similar (though slightly better) improvements (+4.8~26.5 and +4.3~10.4) while also on a struggling team. Dragic and Davis finished 1st and 3rd. Absolutely deserved rankings, but they make 11th and 17th seem a little unfair.
While MIP can be a bit of a backhanded compliment, improved is an apt description for Thomas and Cousins. Thomas beat out yet another challenger for a starting spot and proved that his early per-minute quality translated to his being a top-15 point guard with more playing time. Cousins finished fifth in PER while proving himself a viable offensive lead with an improving defensive game. Questions remain about both players, but less than in the previous year. The fact that neither's improvements were much acknowledged means that the neither's quality will likely be acknowledged by All-NBA spots- unlikely before but even moreso now. Perhaps the upside is that both (assuming and hoping Thomas returns) can take the league by surprise by continuing to improve and leading the Kings to playoff contention next year.
As a note, here's how I would have voted for the MIP award (if they were dumb enough to give me a vote): 1) Dragic 2) Davis 3) Cousins