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Jazz Forward Lauri Markkanen Named Most Improved Player

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen took home the NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award on Monday (April 24), the first Jazz player to do it in franchise history.

Markkanen garnered 69 first-place votes and 430 total points to edge out Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24 first-place votes, 289 total points) and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (4, 91) to win the award.

The 25-year-old Finnish forward just had the best season of his six-year career, putting up career high averages in points (25.6), field goal percentage (49.9%) and minutes (34.4) while leading the team in rebounds (8.6). Last season, he averaged just 14.8 points a game, a 10.8 PPG increase that is the highest in the NBA.

Markkanen became the first Finnish player to play in the All-Star game after being selected to his first this season and is currently in Finland to fulfill his mandatory military service for the country. He was acquired last offseason in a trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers, one of two stops for Markkanen on his way to Utah (the Bulls are the other). Coincidentally, Markkanen was second in the league in PPG for players on a new team, only behind Mitchell.

This season, the 7-foot Markkanen had 16 games with 30 or more points despite putting up 15 such games throughout his first five seasons. He also had 28 double-doubles, a huge increase from the eight he put up over the last three seasons.

Markkanen is the fifth end-of-season award to be handed out this season. He joins Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr., Clutch Player of the Year De’Aaron Fox, Coach of the Year Mike Brown and Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, with Rookie of the Year to be announced Tuesday night.

Let us know what you think of Markkanen winning Most Improved Player by leaving a reaction at the bottom of this post or by tweeting us @celebsecrets.

Author

  • Mason Klemm

    Mason Klemm is a sports news and culture writer. He is a junior at Bradley University studying sports communication, so he obviously loves all things sports. When his eyes aren't glued to ESPN or Twitter, he enjoys watching TV and movies. Originally from Minneapolis, he is a self-proclaimed geography nerd and loves the Eagles and Twins.

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Mason Klemm is a sports news and culture writer. He is a junior at Bradley University studying sports communication, so he obviously loves all things sports. When his eyes aren't glued to ESPN or Twitter, he enjoys watching TV and movies. Originally…

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