CLEVELAND — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland fell short of winning the NBA's Most Improved Player Award for 2021-22, finishing third in the voting.
Memphis Guard Ja Morant, who was the league's rookie of the year in 2020, captured the honor on Monday. Morant finished with 221 points from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league, with five points awarded for a first-place vote, three for a second and one for a third.
San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray was second with 183 points, and Garland was third with 178. Murray appeared on 63 ballots, more than anyone else. Garland appeared on 62 ballots. Morant appeared on 51 of the 100 ballots — but got far more first-place votes than anyone else. He had 38, while Murray collected 20 and fourth-place finisher Jordan Poole of Golden State got 15.
Despite finishing third in the vote, there is no denying that Garland took a huge step in his career this past season. The 22-year-old led the Cavs to a surprising 44-win season and a spot in the NBA's play-in round. Garland finished in the league's top 20 for both points (21.7) and assists (8.6) per game and was named to his first NBA All-Star Game, which was held at Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Fellow Cavalier Evan Mobley recently finished 2nd in the vote for the NBA's Rookie of the Year, losing out to Toronto's Scottie Barnes. Veteran Cavs forward Kevin Love is a finalist for the league's Sixth Man of the Year Award.
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