Pacers' Paul George to be named Most Improved Player, according to report

Andy Lyons

With Danny Granger gone, Paul George stepped up and became the Pacers' best offensive option while helping shut teams down defensively. That earned him the Most Improved Player Award, the first for a Pacer since Granger won it in 2009.

The Indiana Pacers' Paul George will win the NBA's Most Improved Player award after a breakout season where he emerged as the top option on the best defensive team in the league:

George was forced into a larger role: the Pacers were supposed to be based around Danny Granger, who had led the team in scoring every season since 2007-08. But Granger only played five games due to knee issues, and wasn't himself when playing. As a result, George was forced to take nearly 15 shots a game, and he responded well, with his scoring increasing from 12.1 points last season to 17.4 this year.

But it wasn't just offense: George, a rangy 6'9 small forward, helped shut down opposing scorers, as Indiana earned the third-seed in the East with Frank Vogel emphasizing defense. George also reeled in 7.6 boards per game.

Other potential candidates included Larry Sanders, who also emerged as a defensive force for the Bucks, Greivis Vasquez, who was a starter - and an effective point guard - for the first time in his career with New Orleans, and Jrue Holiday, who carried the load for Philadelphia with Andrew Bynum out.

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