Paul George was the easy pick for the Most Improved Player Award, doubling up his closest competition after a season where he took over the reins of an Indiana Pacers offense that was missing Danny Granger all year long.
Of 120 voters, 52 put George first on their ballots, while nobody else received more than 13. Greivis Vasquez of the Hornets finished in second, with 13 voters picking him in first-place, and Larry Sanders of the Bucks finished in third with 10 first-place votes. Nikola Vucevic of the Magic and Jrue Holiday of the Sixers also received ten first place votes, but had considerably less second- and third-place appearances to finish fourth-and-fifth respectively.
Although a whopping 33 players received votes, those were clustered around the top: only 11 players were featured on more than five ballots, and only six received multiple first-place votes.
George entered the season with career averages of 10.0 points and 4.7 rebounds, but with Granger - who won the award in 2009, his first of four seasons where he averaged over 20 points per game - out for all but five games, his role ballooned. He responded, scoring 17.4 points, grabbing 7.6 boards, and dishing out 4.1 assists, all career-highs. And he was a key factor on the league's best defensive teams.
Here's the top 10 in voting:
- Paul George, 311 votes, 52 first-place
- Greivis Vasquez, 146 votes, 13 first-place
- Larry Sanders, 141 votes, 10 first-place
- Nikola Vucevic, 109 votes, 10 first-place
- Jrue Holiday, 102 votes, 10 first-place
- Omer Asik, 86 votes, nine first-place
- James Harden, 53 votes, eight first-place
- Stephen Curry, 18 votes, one first-place
- Serge Ibaka, 15 votes, one first-place
- Chandler Parsons, 14 votes
Your Luke Babbit Living Memorial Why Are These Players Receiving Votes Award for Failure in the Category of Accurate Balloting nominees: Ryan Anderson, who received a first-place vote... despite winning the award literally last year, meaning someone thought he was most improved from a season where he was already most improved. (His numbers also dropped across the board, with the exception of his scoring going from 16.1 points to 16.2 points.) And Andray Blatche, who also received a first-place vote, which I guess is true considering his team didn't tell him to stop showing up to games for being out of shape this year, but he averaged 16.8 points two years ago and 10.3 this year, so, what?