ESPN Taiwan, the SBL marketing firm, held a media day press conference about a week ago and invited all candidates who will be contending for the most improved player award this season. Personally, I think they made a wise selection.
James Mao (Pure Youth)
196cm, F/G, 1982/11/16
This season: 14.2p, 6.0rb, 2.5a
Last season: 8.5p, 4.4rb
Mao spent last season adjusting to a different basketball style and officiating...and complaining. The 6-5 swingman, who can play as many as four positions in the league, is expected to have a breakout season. PY head coach Hsu Chin-tse will also give him a lot of minutes as a "point forward." Mao needs to improve his outside shooting and keep his dribble low though.
Hsu Chi-chan (Bank of Taiwan)
194cm, F, 1982/10/30
This season: 17.7p, 10.0rb, 1.1s, 1.0blk
Last season: 10.6p, 4.3rb
At 25 years-old, Hsu Chi-chan is not a SBL rookie but he hasn't gotten playing time to showcase his talent and improve his skills by playing. He gets the opportunity this year after BOT lost scorers Yang Chin-min and Yue Ying-li. Hsu is now averaging a double-double. The skinny forward is a very active rebounder and jumper. If Hsu and Chen Shun-hsiang, who's on the injured list, play up to their potential, BOT, which is in a 25-game losing streak, will at least be a competitive team.
Lin Kwan-lun (dmedia)
184cm, G, 1984/1/23
This season: 8.3p, 3.5rb, 2.7a, 1.3s
Last season: 5.1p, 1.8rb
Lin Kwan-lun, who played for Dacin and Taiwan Beer, is expected to get a lot more minutes in dmedia. Dmedia head coach Wu Jian-kuo made a surprising announcement that he would try Lin at point guard. Results of the bold move remains to be seen, but there's no denying that Lin's play has been a factor in dmedia's surprising record (5-1).
Chen Tse-wei (Dacin)
200cm, F, 1985/1/30
This season: 10.2p, 4.2rb
Last season: 7p, 1.8rb
The skinny 6-7 forward has never been an inside force from high school days. Observers think that he has spent too many times wandering around the perimeter and launching three-pointers, which is probably true. But Chen has been taking and making threes when the game's on the line. He was the key player in Dacin's upset win over Yulon in last season's playoffs. In fact, Chen also has been working hard at defending the paint and doing the dirty works because Tien Lei spent even more time on the outside. I do think Chen was underappreciated and underrated for his play.
(Photo Source: SBL official site)