Ahead of the final slate of NBA play-in games, the crew on NBA on TNT unveiled the list of finalists for the league’s 2022-23 Most Improved Player Award.
NBA Most Improved Player finalists: Jalen Brunson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lauri Markkanen
After signing with the New York Knicks in free agency, Brunson averaged 24.0 PPG on 49.1% shooting alongside 6.2 APG. Gilgeous-Alexander continued to prove that the future is bright for the Oklahoma City Thunder after increasing his scoring average to 31.4 PPG while shooting a career-best 51% from the floor. In his first season with the Utah Jazz, Markkanen averaged 25.6 PPG and 8.6 RPG while shooting 49.9% from the field.
Though not the deciding factor by any means, the fact that Gilgeous-Alexander and Markkanen were named first-time All-Stars could potentially shift this to a two-man race. Though the Thunder point guard averaged more points per game this season, Markkanen recorded a higher scoring average increase of plus-11. The hardware winner could go either way, but when it comes to weighing year-over-year improvement, Markkanen’s sudden break out season may give him the edge in this race.