Ja Morant has been named the 2021-2022 Kia NBA Most Improved Player, the league has announced.
The three-year veteran is the first Memphis Grizzlies player to claim the honor since it was first awarded in the 1985-86 season.
Morant received 221 points (38 first-place votes) in the ballot, which involved a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. San Antonio Spurs star Dejounte Murray finished second with 183 points (20 first-place votes).
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland ended up third with 178 points (11 first-place votes).
Morant averaged 27.4 points per game in the regular season, shooting 49.3% from the field and 34.4% from deep — all career-highs. He improved his scoring average by 8.3 points compared to the 2020-21 campaign.
The 22-year-old recorded career-highs in minutes (33.1), rebounds (5.7), steals (1.2), free throws made (5.5), free throws attempted (7.3) and three-pointers made (1.5).
He also finished 2021-22 with the highest average of points scored in the paint (16.6), edging two of the best big men in the NBA: Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo. No other guard has ever led the league in the stat column since the Association started recording the numbers in 1996-97.
Morant has earned his second individual award, adding this year’s recognition to his 2019-20 Rookie of the Year title.
The NBA has previously announced the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart won the 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award and the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes scooped the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year title.
Three 2021-22 NBA awards are yet to be decided
The NBA is yet to reveal the winners of three individual awards for the 2021-22 season. The Sixth Man of the Year title will go to either Tyler Herro (Miami Heat), Cam Johnson (Phoenix Suns), or Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies), Erik Spoelstra (Heat), and Monty Williams (Suns) are in the final-3 for the Coach of the Year honor.
The MVP award will be decided between big men Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets).
Also, the league is yet to announce the 2021-22 All-NBA, All-Defensive, and All-Rookie teams.
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