Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com lists Portland Trail Blazers forward/center J.J. Hickson as one of the NBA's five most improved players this season. Hickson places third behind Brooklyn Nets forward Andray Blatche and Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe.
Hickson's improvement actually started late last season when the Blazers signed him following his release by the Kings. That momentum has carried into this season, as Hickson has developed into a valuable starter who is playing nearly 30 minutes per game.
J.J. Hickson, averaging a career-high 10.9 rebounds, is having a breakout season for the Blazers.
Prior to this season, Hickson had always been solid on the boards, but he has become an elite rebounder in 2012-13, ranking in the top 10 in the NBA in both offensive rebound percentage and defensive rebound percentage.
Hickson is also on pace for a career-high offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) thanks to a .559 true shooting percentage -- his best since the 2009-10 season -- and a career-low average of 12.2 turnovers per 100 plays.
Hickson was listed as a Most Improved Player candidate by Zach Lowe of Grantland.com a few weeks ago here. He was dubbed one of the "most overrated" rebounders here. A discussion of his trade value was raised here.
Hat tip to Casey Holdahl at Blazers.com.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter