Why Coby White deserves Most Improved award, not Tyrese Maxey

Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Coby White has been a revelation for the Chicago Bulls this season, averaging 19.7 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game — all career bests. His breakout season has helped keep the Bulls afloat even as significant injuries to the roster's core players continue to pile up. White's development as a floor general has earned him a great deal of praise as many have called for him to win the 2024 Most Improved Player award.

As electric as Coby has been this season, the current frontrunner for the MIP award has been even better. Tyrese Maxey is the bookies' favorite, currently averaging 26 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game while posting the 20th-best offensive BPM of any player in the league. As a result, Maxey has earned a well-deserved first All-Star nomination of his career this season.

Other contenders for the NBA's Most Improved Player award include Jalen Johnson, Alperen Sengun, and Jalen Williams, each of whom has been stellar for their respective teams and is a true testament to how much elite young talent is in the NBA today. DraftKings lists Maxey as the favorite with -400 odds, Coby next line at +450, and Sengun in a distant third place at +1200.

Breakout Bulls guard Coby White deserves to win the NBA's 2024 Most Improved Player award over frontrunner Tyrese Maxey.

These raw numbers don't paint the full picture, however, as Coby has stepped his game up tremendously in the absence of Zach LaVine this season. Since LaVine suffered his first injury that caused him to miss extended time back in late November, Coby has averaged 22.3 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.6 rebounds over a span of 44 games. These numbers are much more in line with Maxey's production, thus inserting Coby firmly in the MIP race.

Coby White has made a larger statistical leap than Tyrese Maxey.

Although Maxey may be the better player right now, that's not what we're discussing here. This isn't a Most Valuable Player award race, it's a Most Improved Player debate. With their raw stats from this season in mind, let's take a look at how each player has statistically progressed from the 2022-23 season to the current campaign:


Coby White

Tyrese Maxey










Field Goal Percentage



Free Throw Percentage



Of course, it can be argued that making the jump from 'good starter' to 'All-Star' is more difficult than 'role player' to 'good starter'. That being said, I still don't believe Maxey's jump has been substantial enough to justify him winning the award.

Giving Tyrese Maxey MIP goes against the very ethos of the award.

I can't shake the feeling that giving the Most Improved Player award to someone who's already established themselves as one of the NBA's premiere players goes against the very spirit of the award. This is why we saw such a great deal of backlash when Ja Morant won MIP, as he had already proven himself to be more than just a rising talent in the season before he eventually claimed the award in 2022.

Many media members and NBA player (including LeBron James) expressed their disdain for Morant winning the award on the basis that he was already too good for the award. “Hell no Ja [Morant] is not getting Most Improved. Miles Bridges should get it," said four-time champion Draymond Green, "When I say 'hell no', in my opinion, Ja has already passed that. Let's talk about the MVP conversation. That's the category that I personally feel like Ja Morant needs to be mentioned more in.”

Even Morant himself opted to decline the award, instead offering it up to fellow teammate and breakout star Desmond Bane.

For the same reasons why Morant should have been excluded from the MIP conversation, I believe Maxey has evolved past that point in his career trajectory. Taking a deeper look into the award's past winners, it's clear that the league has gotten carried away with driving narratives in favor of star players rather than shining a light on the league's underappreciated talent. NBA writer Brett Usher highlights this fact with a post on X (formerly Twitter), claiming the award has "lost its soul" in recent years.

Coby White is leading a more successful team than Tyrese Maxey.

At the end of the day, I believe the Bulls' middling position in the standings is the biggest criterion being held against them here. After all, Maxey plays for a genuine championship contender, and Coby plays for a team not many expect to make much noise outside of the play-in tournament.

I'd like to challenge this notion, however, as Philadelphia's recent freefall seems to have been strangely ignored by most NBA media outlets. Maxey has led the 76ers to a disappointing 9-13 record in games without Joel Embiid, as Philadelphia has slipped from a top-three team in the East to the 7th seed under his watch. This comes in stark contrast to White, who has propelled the Bulls to a 21-17 record in the absence of LaVine and Lonzo Ball — two players who take up even more of Chicago's payroll than Embiid does for Philadelphia.

I don't necessarily believe winning games should be the biggest factor worth considering for voters of the MIP award, but the odds in Vegas seem to indicate that voters are discrediting Coby for Chicago's mediocre record. This doesn't sit right with me, as it seems Maxey should be the one shouldering the blame for not winning games, not Coby.

Both of these players are enjoying incredible seasons and have strong cases to win the Most Improved Player award, but for now, I believe Coby White is the more deserving winner. Even if you disagree, it's difficult for me to accept that Maxey should be viewed as a clear frontrunner, as the sportsbooks in Vegas seem to think. The Bulls are still a competitive team thanks to the great strides made by White this season and for that, he deserves all the flowers.