The NBA announced that Lauri Markkanen has won the 2023 Most Improved Player Award.
Markkanen joined the Utah Jazz as part of the blockbuster Donovan Mitchell trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Markkanen was intriguing but had mostly been viewed as a distressed asset that, if the Jazz were lucky, might turn into something more.
Well, he blew expectations out of the water.
After the trade, Markkanen exploded in the Eurobasket for Finland and put up monster numbers of 27 points and 8 rebounds. He even put up a 43-point game. It was intriguing, but there was skepticism that his play would then translate over to the NBA.
It sure did. Markkanen grew in confidence through the entire 2023 season with his numbers improving month after month until he was putting up some ludicrous efficiency by the end of the season as the team’s number one option. By the end of the season he averaged 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists on a split of 49.9%/39.1%/87.5% (just under what he did in Eurobasket.)
It’s an impressive accomplishment for a player that will be a part of the Jazz future for years to come and who has advanced the timeline of the Jazz’s rebuild exponentially.