NBA news: Luka Doncic, 3 finalists announced for Most Improved Player
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Luka Doncic among 3 finalists announced for NBA’s Most Improved Player award

Luka Doncic, Mavs

The NBA announced the three finalists for the 2019-20 Most Improved Player award on Saturday, with Dallas Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic among the trio.

Fellow first-time All-Star forwards Brandon Ingram of the New Orleans Pelicans and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat round out the finalists for the prestigious award, which counts stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, and Paul George as previous winners of the distinction.

Doncic, 21, has been a revelation since entering the league as a teenager; the Slovenian-born ball-handling wing was the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, acquired by the Mavs via trade with the Atlanta Hawks, coming over from across the Atlantic as a EuroLeague MVP and champion. Doncic won the league’s Rookie of the Year award last season and became a first-time All-Star in his sophomore campaign as he leads Dallas to a playoff berth in the Orlando bubble.

Meanwhile, Ingram and the Pelicans are jockeying for a spot in the crowded Western Conference playoff picture, as they are just 2.5 games behind No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies—all while the NBA institutes a play-in tournament for teams within four games of that last playoff berth. New Orleans is 2-3 during the bubble so far, with 2019 draft’s first overall pick Zion Williamson either missing games or extremely limited by a minutes restriction.

Finally, Heat power forward/center Bam Adebayo rounds out as a finalist for the Most Improved Player award. The former Kentucky product became a mainstay in head coach Erik Spoelstra’s starting lineup this season, working well in tandem with star swingman Jimmy Butler and upstart contributors Kendrick Nunn, a finalist for Rookie of the Year along with Williamson and Memphis’ Ja Morant, and Duncan Robinson.