Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award for the just concluded regular season which sums up a stunning turnaround in his career.
Markkanen who had 69 first-place votes, 430 total points beats Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24 first-placed votes and 289 total points) and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (4 first-placed votes, 91 total points) to win the award.
According to the voting results breakdown, another 10 players received at least one first-place vote. From Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III getting at least one first-place selection.
Lauri, 25, is currently in his home country – Finland completing his mandatory service to the country’s military this summer. He was traded from Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the deal that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in September.
Prior to the trade, the 7-foot forward had averaged under 15 points per game during each of his last three seasons – the first two with the Chicago Bulls and 2021-22 with Cleveland.
After the trade, He then recorded what is by far the best season of his career, averaging 25.6 points on 49.9% shooting overall and 39.1% from 3-point range with the Uttah Jazz in the just concluded season.
As a result of his impressive numbers, Markkanen was selected to his first All-Star team in February, and he is also a strong candidate to get one of the six All-NBA forward selections when the teams are announced later this postseason.
The Most Improved Player award won by Markkanen is the 5th of the first round of awards handed out by the NBA which commenced last week. The Defensive Player of the Year was won by Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The Clutch Player of the Year was won by Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. The Coach of the Year was won by Kings coach Mike Brown, and Sixth Man of the Year was won by Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon.
Still to come are: The Rookie of the year award (which will be announced later on Tuesday), The All-NBA, All-Defense and All-Rookie teams – and The league’s Most Valuable Player Award which will all be unveiled later this postseason.
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