After a bounceback season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a strong showing for the Finnish national team in the EuroBasket tournament that following summer, Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen has had a career season in Salt Lake City and looks to be the frontrunner for the 2023 Most Improved Player award.
Markkanen, who was drafted in 2017 and has played on three teams since then, would welcome the honor (h/t HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto).
“I think it would be great. With the regular season about to end and I start hearing that stuff, it would be a pretty cool trophy to have at home. I take a lot of pride in the hard work and, like becoming an All-Star, knowing what I’ve gone through and being able to bounce back from that would mean a lot for me. Hopefully, I get it done. It would be pretty cool.”
Markkanen averaged 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Jazz this season.
Should win the award, he would be the first in NBA history to receive the rebranded George Mikan Trophy.
However, he makes it clear that his success this season isn’t just the byproduct of his individual performance. The 25-year-old also thanks his teammates and coaches for putting him in position to be so effective.
“I always thank my teammates and coaching staff for the year I’m having. It’s not like I’m playing isolation basketball. I’m on the move a lot, and my baskets are assisted. I don’t think it would’ve happened without them. I have a system that plays to my strengths, and personnel-wise, everyone buys in and believes in what we’re doing.”
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