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NBA notebook — Dec. 6

Beacon Journal wire reports With the first full month of the 2012-13 NBA season in the books, many pundits have pegged Jrue Holiday, who leads the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring and is second in the league in assists (but also leads the league in turnovers), as their early choice for most improved player. And while it is much too early to debate who should win an award, there are two other players who bear close watching. In his first two NBA seasons, Eric Bledsoe was largely an unproductive bench player for the Los Angeles Clippers. Entering this season, Bledsoe’s career true shooting percentage — a measure of scoring efficiency that takes into account 2-point fields, 3-point field goals and free throws — was 48.9. His true shooting percentage this season has improved to 56.3, and he has reduced his turnover rate to 16.7 percent. Milwaukee Bucks power forward Larry Sanders, the 15th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, struggled in his first two seasons in the league, shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 52.3 percent from the free-throw line. But Sanders has turned things around this season, shooting 55 percent from the field and 61.3 percent from the free-throw line. Sanders has also shown improvement on the defensive end. He has blocked almost 10 percent of opponents’ 2-point shots while he is on the floor, by far the best rate in the NBA, and his defensive rebound percentage has soared to 27.5 percent, a mark that puts him in the top 10 in the league. With roughly 80 percent of the season remaining, Bledsoe and Sanders have a long way to go. But given the way they have started, these two players may be serious candidates for some hardware by the end of the season.


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