Seems like as good a time as any to haul out the end-of-season awards. We'll start with the Most Improved player award, to be decided by you. Here are some candidates (links on player names go to career stats pages):
Rajon Rondo: By all accounts, Rondo made "the Leap" this year. Last year he was a starter and a huge contributor to a Championship team, but there were days when he looked very much the 2nd year player that he was. This year, he's been much more consistent and one of the main driving forces behind the team's success. His stats are up across the board but I'm most impressed with the increase of assists (from 5.1 to 8.4).
Kendrick Perkins: We already talked about his improvements. The only thing that may hinder him in this award is how gradually he's improved from year to year. The biggest improvement over last year is on the offensive end. You no longer have to cringe when he gets the ball in the post. That says a lot.
Eddie House: His scoring average is up a point per game, but more telling is his shooting percentage. Last year he shot 40.9% from the field and 39.3% from deep. This year he's up to 44.6% and 43.8%. In case you missed it, if he keeps this up, he'll break Danny Ainge's Celtic record for 3 point percentage in a season. One last note: last year he was seen as a liability headed into the postseason (couldn't play point guard well enough). Once the team focused on keeping him at shooting guard, his stock soared.
Glen Davis: His improvement can be seen week by week rather than year by year. At the beginning of the year he was still a young guy that struggled to get playing time in a platoon with Leon Powe. Now he's a fill-in starter that has scored 19 or more points in 5 of his last 7 games.
Leon Powe: You can re-read what I wrote about Glen Davis and simply change the name to Leon Powe and you'll have the same conclusion. The only difference has been the late season injury that has kept Leon out for several weeks. Lest we forget, before he went down, he scored 20, 12, 23, and 30(!) points while putting up very good rebounding numbers.
Brian Scalabrine: Missing but not yet forgotten. Scal was having perhaps his best season as a Celtic before the concussions sidelined him. As usual the numbers don't tell the story. He was making shots within the flow of the offense, making the right pass, setting the right pick, leading the second unit defense, and just doing all the little things he does well.
I'm going to leave Ray Allen off the list because I find it hard to consider him for "most improved" when he was an All Star last year and this year. However, I do acknowledge the fact that his game has progressed as he's gotten more healthy and as Doc has found more ways to work him into a bigger role in the offense.
Keep in mind, this isn't an MVP award and it isn't a popularity contest. This is about who improved the most from last year to this year.