Does T.J. Warren have a case for Most Improved Player?

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T.J. Warren
Photo: Cody Cunningham, NBA.com

The Phoenix Suns have struggled to score the ball this season, and that has not helped them in closing out games.

The team has a lack of scoring options behind young guys like the 22-year-old Devin Booker. However, T.J. Warren has quietly been the second threat for the Suns, which their coaching staff loves.

“We love his game,” said Phoenix Sun’s Head Coach Igor Kokoskov. “When he’s aggressive and is being himself, he’s a huge help for our team.”

Warren is having one of the best seasons in his NBA career because of his improved shooting.

Being the solid defensive player he is, Warren is averaging 18.5 points, four rebounds and one assist per game.

On December 11th, Warren dropped an incredible 23 points in just 24 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs while going 4-4 from the free throw line. At one point during the season, the duo of T.J. Warren and Devin Booker were averaging 40.9 points combined.

Three-point shooting:

Perimeter shooting has always been a bump in Warren’s gameplay. Thus far this season, Warren is shooting a career-high 43% from behind the three-point line on a healthy 4.2 attempts per game, and 50% from the field.

He is 11th in the league in three-point percentage, right behind Rudy Gay. The last time Warren shot over 40% from the three-point line was in the 2015-16 season with the Suns. This year also marks the first time in Warren’s career that he has shot 100 or more threes in a season.

It’s good because for guys like DeAndre Ayton, having guys on the outside that can space the floor out for him not only gives him the ability to work down low, but also gains trust to pass it to the outside for the three-point shot.

Warren has the ability to get open without the ball and his teammates are capable of finding him for some three’s with space. When Warren is shooting well, the whole team plays well collectively.

Free-Throw Shooting:

Not only has his perimeter shooting improved, but his free-throw shooting has as well. Warren is shooting 82.6% from the free-throw line, making for the best mark of his career. He’s becoming a player that teams shouldn’t foul at the end of the game with the ball in their hands because he’ll make those freebies.

Next Step: Consistency

Warren becoming a more consistent scorer would take a huge offensive load off of Booker’s shoulders and help the team stay afloat in the brutal Western Conference.

Phoenix is 5-2 in their last seven contests, including a four-game win streak, and it’s no surprise that their recent surge has been powered by Booker and Warren, who is averaging 22 points and five rebounds a game over that stretch, including 47% from the field and 45.9% from downtown.

Other guys in the league are having breakout seasons, such as the Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, but T.J. Warren could potentially be in the running for Most Improved Player this season if he keeps up the good work.

 

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