The one good thing about Joel Embiid missing so much time this season is that his MVP ineligibility means we don’t have to deal with the frustration of 47 dorks from The Ringer voting him 4th on their ballots. Unfortunately, Tyrese Maxey is a candidate for Most Improved Player this year, the current front runner actually, and Bill Simmons doesn’t have him his top three:

I went through the masochistic process of listening to the podcast to get Simmons’ reasoning.

Here’s what he said:

I’ll just tell you my thinking of this. And again, we all have votes. Everybody thinks about it differently. But I agree with the philosophy of – and I wish I had thought about this before, but I people really sold me on this – that if you’re going from year one to year two, maybe you shouldn’t win most most improved, or year two to year 3. You should be getting better. It’s like, of course, so Jalen Williams is somebody else. I want to vote for him in the top three. But he was really good down the stretch last year. It’s his second year, he should be getting better. Maxey was another one. I made this case last year, Maxey was really good last year. He was a 20 point a game guy and he was really effective and now he just had more shots. I don’t see how he’s most improved. I want improved where it’s like I look at a guy from last season and I’m looking at a guy this season going, ‘Jesus Christ, what the hell happened?’ So Coby White being a guy who came off the bench averaging 10 points a game to now he’s 19 and five every night. You’re watching Bulls and Knicks he’s carving up their defense down the stretch and getting to the rim. He’s clearly #1 to me. I have Deni Avdija as #2 on a shit Wizards team. Deni Avdija last year averaged 9 points a game and shot 29% from 3 and 43% field goal. This year he was 51% field goal, 38% from three. He averaged 15 and seven. And every time I watch the Wizards, I was always like, ‘man, I love this guy. Can this guy be on a good team?’ So I have him second and Hartenstein third. Hartenstein, who carried the Knicks when they basically (needed it), if he didn’t play well, they were fucked, played 25 minutes a game +9.8 net and was a borderline all defense team guy for me. I just think I watched that dude on the Clippers. I always liked him and he went to a level I did not expect. So those are my 3.

Okay, so he’s using the argument that Maxey was already great and you can’t win MIP if you’re already great.

The counter argument is that you can go from great to really great, or really great to elite. You can go from elite to superstar, and that’s what I think Tyrese Maxey did this past season. Sure, last year he was a 20 point per night player who started 41 games and took 15 shots a game. He shot better from three in 2022-2023 and played more than 2,000 minutes as the third guy on a team with the MVP and James Harden.

But this year Tyrese became a 25 point per night player, a first-time All Star who scored more than 50 points on three separate occasions and led the Sixers during Embiid’s absence as the de facto #1 option and primary ball handler and offensive initiator. His usage % was a career high. He started 70 games and almost doubled the amount of assists he tossed in the span of a single year. He got to the foul line more, logged more steals, grabbed more rebounds, and really shined in BPM and VORP and all of the stupid stats the Jokic fans love. And he did it at age 23, so you could argue that he’s still in a development phase. Coby White is 24, Deni Avdija is 23, and Isaiah Hartenstein is 25, so it’s not like the rest of group has the benefit of being early-career figure out-ers. He’s made significant leaps in each of the last few seasons, and therefore should be considered for MIP.

The problem with voting in anything is that criteria is subjective, or, worse, nonexistent. See the baseball or “Rock and Roll” Halls of Fame. You’re going to have voters who set their own parameters, which is what Simmons is doing here. What makes it funny is that Maxey has been leading this category in PA sports betting and NJ online sports betting for some time now, and he’s been at -1500 or better as the front runner, so when you see him not even make someone’s top three, you do have to laugh or maybe cry.