Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George firmly believes Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen deserves to win the Most Improved Player award for 2022-23, and for good reason.
Markkanen is one of the three finalists for the honor along with New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson and Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. All three have strong cases for the MIP award after an incredible jump to their productions during the regular season. Both Markkanen and SGA even made the All-Star Game, while Brunson was really close (though there's no denying he should have made it as well considering his work with the ‘Bockers).
Speaking on his Podcast P show, however, George made an argument why Markkanen is on the top of his list for MIP. He highlighted that the Jazz star made such a huge improvement on his game all while changing positions, which was never an easy thing to do for established veterans in the NBA.
“His scoring rose from 15 to 24 something like that, and he changed positions. He changed to a 3 now, like dude's a 7-foot. He's a small forward. I remember when he was in Cleveland, I was joking with him, ‘Damn, you're a 3 now?' Shout out to him for making that position change to go from power forward to small forward.”
Among the three finalists, Lauri Markkanen had the biggest jump in his scoring average. From averaging 14.8 points in 2021-22, he put up 25.6 in 2022-23. He also improved his rebounding from 5.7 to 8.6 and his assist numbers from 1.3 to 1.9.
Paul George reveals his picks for the following 2023 awards 👀
🏆 Most Improved Player— Lauri Markkanen
🏆 Sixth Man— Norman Powell
🏆 Defensive Player— Herb Jones
Agree with PG? 🤔
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 18, 2023
It remains to be seen if Markkanen can actually take home the award, but as Paul George said it, the Jazz star certainly deserves it.