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Jazz breakout star Markkanen named Most Improved Player

Jeff Swinger / National Basketball Association / Getty

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen was named the Most Improved Player for the 2022-23 season, the NBA announced Monday on TNT.

Markkanen received 69 of the 100 first-place votes to beat out Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson. Gilgeous-Alexander, who had 24 first-place votes, was the only other player to receive more than four.

The sixth-year pro made his All-Star debut in 2022-23 and averaged a career-high 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds.

He increased his scoring average by 10.8 points from the previous season and doubled his free-throw attempts from 2.6 to six per game. Markkanen also notched career-best efficiency marks of 49.9% from the field and 64% true shooting.

Markkanen is the first Jazz player to win the award since its inception in the 1985-86 campaign.

The No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft, Markkanen spent his first four seasons with the Chicago Bulls before joining the Cleveland Cavaliers via sign-and-trade in 2021.

Cleveland then sent Markkanen to the Jazz as part of a massive haul for superstar Donovan Mitchell in September 2022.

Markkanen is spending time this offseason completing his mandatory military service in his native Finland.

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