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They are going to rob Kevin Martin.

I begrudgingly made a minor scene over Marc Stein's reluctance to hand Kevin Martin the 'Most Improved Player' award with two months to go. His pal Chris Sheridan must have decided he wanted Kings Nation's full wrath, because he doesn't even include Speedracer in the conversation.

Sheridan gives Miami's Jason Kapono the prize:

No shortage of candidates here, and we're resisting the urge to select Al Jefferson or Monta Ellis by seeking someone who has kept his team afloat in the playoff race. And the one guy who has done that better than anyone else is Miami's small forward, the 3-point champion with the sweet stroke (he leads the league with a 52-percent accuracy mark on 3s) whose move into the starting lineup has kept the defending champs from falling below .500 and out of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Before my mouth erupts into a banshee's scream, let's peruse the evidence:

Player     MPG    PPG   RPG   APG   TS%   PER
Martin    +9.3  +10.5  +0.8  +0.9  +3.1  +6.5
Kapono   +13.3   +7.0  +1.3  +0.5  +7.9  +5.3
Al-Jeff  +15.0   +7.0  +6.2  +0.6  +0.5  +2.2
Ellis    +16.2  +10.5  +1.0  +2.6  +6.0  +4.2

The 'minutes per game' is the important part here: It explains most of why these players' numbers jumped. For Jefferson, for whom I doted at Fanhouse yesterday, his increase in minutes completely explains his jump in scoring. His rebounding has significantly improved - his rebound rate went from 17.2 last year to 20.0 this year - fourth-best in the league. Otherwise, he hasn't improved - he's just gotten more minutes to show his stuff.

Why are Kapono's numbers better? Yes, he is shooting a deal better. That accounts for part of it. The bulk of the jump, though, can be attributed to massive jump in minutes. He is playing twice as much as last year. And we don't even need to bring up that he was just plain awful last season - his 2004-05 season was similar to this season, minus the great shooting. He scored 8 ppg that season, versus 4 last year and 11 this season.

Ellis has had a marvelous season, truly, and is the only guy I think you can vote for other than Martin. His shooting on two-point FGs is much better this year because he's getting to the rim almost at will. His deep shooting has dropped off (and it'll rebound next year, I think). Because of the shooting boost and his new-found ability to get to the line, Ellis' per-minute scoring numbers have jumped as Martin's have. But again, like Jefferson and Kapono, Monta's huge jump in minutes per game explains most of the improvement.

If your minutes double, your points per game will usually double. It's science. This makes Martin's incredible improvement that much more powerful - his minutes have increased, but not nearly as much as his competitors. He played a lot last season, and was very good then. Now? He plays like a starter should and he's phenomenal. Kapono sucked last season, and he's almost average this season. Ellis didn't play that much last season, and he's been awesome this year. Jefferson hasn't improved anything statistically but his rebounding. Martin has improved every facet of his game, going from sixth man to borderline All-Star. It shows in the numbers - none of the other players' jumps in PER (the best single-number rating system the league, nearly everyone agrees) even come close.

And Chris Sheridan isn't even going to mention him?