Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen wins 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year

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Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen wins 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has won the 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award. The sixth-year wing received 69 first-place votes, 27 second-place votes, and four third-place votes, bringing his point total to 430.

“It’s a good recognition of the work you put in, but it’s just the beginning,” Markkanen said. “I want to make the next jump and be able to lead this team to the playoffs and do something big with this group.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder finished second with 24 first-place votes, 54 second-place votes, and seven third-place votes. SGA amassed 289 total points.

According to a few NBA betting sites, the Jazz have a 4.5% chance of receiving the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. Sportsbooks are giving the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets a 14% probability of winning the No. 1 pick.

In 66 starts with the Jazz this season, Lauri Markkanen averaged career highs of 25.6 points, 1.9 assists, 8.7 field goals, and 34.4 minutes per game. Plus, the forward shot career bests of 49.9% from the floor and 87.5% at the foul line.

Additionally, in Utah’s 131-114 win over the Houston Rockets on Jan. 5, the wing scored a career-high 49 points in 37 minutes of action. Along with grabbing eight boards, Markkanen shot 15-of-27 (55.6%) from the field and drained six 3-pointers.

Utah Jazz breakout star Lauri Markkanen wins 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award after posting 16 games with 30 or more points

Furthermore, Lauri Markkanen received his first All-Star selection as a Western Conference reserve. In September, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded the Arizona product, Ochai Agbaji, Collin Sexton, and five first-round draft picks (2025-29) to Utah for Donovan Mitchell.

Markkanen went on to end the regular season 16th in points (1,691), 20th in 3-pointers (200), 20th in free throws (349), 10th in offensive win shares (6.3), 20th in player efficiency rating (22.1), and 17th in offensive box plus/minus (4.9). No matter which way one slices it, he deserved to win Most Improved Player without question.

Last season with Cleveland, the forward averaged 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 30.8 minutes per game. The Finland native logged only three double-doubles in the 2021-22 season with the Cavaliers as well. Fast forward a year, Markkanen finished this season with 28 double-doubles. The difference is night and day.

More importantly, Markkanen is earning every cent of the four-year, $67.47 million contract he signed with the Chicago Bulls as part of a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers in 2021. The Jazz forward made $16,475,454 this season and will receive $17,259,999 next season.

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