Utah Jazz Forward Lauri Markkanen Named 2022-23 Kia NBA Most Improved Player In Breakout Season

Photo: Instagram/Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen, the forward for the Utah Jazz, has been awarded the 2022-23 Kia NBA Most Improved Player after an outstanding season that saw him make his first All-Star appearance.

The announcement was made at 2 a.m. in Helsinki, where Markkanen is currently serving in the Finnish military.

He beat out fellow finalists Jalen Brunson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to win the award, receiving 69 of the 100 first-place votes and appearing on every ballot.

Photo: Instagram/Lauri Markkanen's improvement this season has been nothing short of remarkable, and he has risen to the challenge with every game.

During his first season with the Jazz, Markkanen's personal production and efficiency increased in all areas, logging career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, and free throw attempts. He shot 49.9% overall, 39.1% from 3-point range, and 87.5% from the free-throw line.

Markkanen also became the first player in NBA history to convert over 200 3-pointers and 100 dunks in a single season.

Markkanen, who was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017 and traded on Draft night, led the Jazz to a 10-3 start and helped them remain in the playoff mix until injuries led them to finish 12th in the Western Conference.

He is the first player in Jazz franchise history to receive the Most Improved Player award.

Markkanen's rise to stardom has been sudden but spectacular. After serving as a solid starter for Chicago and Cleveland in his first five NBA seasons, he has given Utah an immediately bright future as the biggest piece in the return for multi-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell, whom Utah dealt to the Cavaliers.

Markkanen, who is only 25 years old, joins the ranks of international players who have won the Most Improved Player award, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Goran Dragic, Boris Diaw, Hedo Turkoglu, and Gheorghe Muresan.

His breakout season, which earned him the Kia NBA Most Improved Player award, has also earned him a spot in the history books of the NBA.

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Source: NBA

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