Jazz’s Lauri Markkanen Wins 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Award
Salt Lake City, UT (April 24, 2023) — Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen was named the NBA’s 2022-23 Most Improved Player on Monday. He beat out Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson.
Markkanen, 25, went from being a supporting player in Cleveland last season to leading the Utah Jazz in scoring this season with 25.6 points per game, while adding 8.6 rebounds per contest and shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three.
The forward never fully lived up to the billing that came with being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft in his first four seasons with the Chicago Bulls or his one season with the Cavs, but he was a revelation for the Jazz this past season.
In turn, a Utah team expected to be in a full rebuild after trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell before the season instead found itself hanging around the playoff and play-in tournament picture for much of the season before ultimately falling short.
Markkanen’s huge year was the primary reason why.
It seemed a little odd to see Gilgeous-Alexander in the running for a Most Improved award, given that he was already a star after averaging 23.7 points per game in the 2020-21 season and 24.5 points per game in the 2021-22 campaign.
But Gilgeous-Alexander took yet another leap this year, putting up 31.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from three.
At just 24 years of age, there’s little doubt that Gilgeous-Alexander is entering his prime years as a full-blown superstar. And now there’s little doubt that the Oklahoma City Thunder have the focal point of their ongoing rebuild covered.
Brunson’s signing with the New York Knicks after spending his first four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks led to two major outcomes. The first is that the Knicks rebounded from a poor 2021-22 season to return to the postseason.
And the second was that with Luka Dončić no longer dominating the ball, Brunson was free to take on a bigger offensive role after changing teams. The result was a career season that saw him average 24 points and 6.2 assists while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from three.
His signing proved to be one of the savvier moves of the offseason. Brunson has been a major hit in New York and is a major reason why the team returned to the postseason.