Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic Wins NBA Most Improved Player Award

May 4, 2012

Ryan Anderson, former Cal Bears star and current Orlando Magic forward, is the winner of the 2011-12 NBA Most Improved Player Award, presented annually to the player who has made the most significant improvement from the previous season.

“I never thought I’d win an award like this. It’s a pretty cool honor and to hear the names that have won this award before and be a part of that list is pretty special,” Anderson said. “You come into the NBA and you plan on just playing, and then when you win an award like this it’s a pretty special thing.”

Anderson received 260 of a possible 605 points, including 33 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks (159 points, 21 first-place votes) and Nikola Pekovic of the Minnesota Timberwolves (104 points, 10 first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively.

Anderson established career highs in scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounds (7.7 rpg), field goal percentage (.439), and free throw percentage. He also paced the league and established personal bests in three-pointers made (166) and attempted (422).

Anderson increased his scoring from the previous season by 5.5 ppg, and his rebounds by 2.2 rpg. Orlando averaged 107.5 points per 100 possessions with Anderson on the court, compared to 94.1 points with the 6-10 forward on the bench.

Magic GM Otis Smith saw something special in Anderson back in 2009, demanding that he be included in a trade with the New Jersey Nets that was centered around Vince Carter.

Said Smith: “We wouldn’t have done the deal if Ryan wouldn’t have been included. That’s how much we liked him and wanted him.”

The 23-year-old Anderson even marvels himself at how far he’s come in basically two years time.

“It’s a weird thing to me because of my history in past years,” said Anderson, who is in his third season with the Magic. “If you would have told me during that stretch last year when I wasn’t playing that I’d have this great opportunity this year and then become the Most Improved Player, I’d have laughed in your face.”

Anderson will be a restricted free agent this summer and could be in line for a massive contract as a coveted "stretch 4," but he said his offseason focus will instead be on adding strength and improving his low-post game.

“This is just going to make me a better player for the future. This is just going to make me expand my game,” Anderson vowed. “I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m not 100 percent confident in the post. I’m excited because I know I can be so much better and there are so many different elements in my game where I can improve.”

Anderson joins former Magic standout Rashard Lewis (in 2009) as the only power forward in league history to lead the NBA in 3-point makes.

2011-12 NBA Most Improved Player Award Voting

Ryan Anderson (260)
Ersan Ilyasova (159)
Nikola Pekovic (104)
Greg Monroe (96)
Andrew Bynum (96)
Jeremy Lin (91)
Goran Dragic (54)
Avery Bradley (36)
Danny Green (27)
Jeff Teague (27)
Serge Ibaka (16)
Ty Lawson (16)
Paul George (13)
Steve Novak (12)
DeMarcus Cousins (11)
Kevin Love (8)
Roy Hibbert (7)
James Harden (7)
Gerald Henderson (6)
Marcin Gortat (6)
Kyle Lowry (5)
Andrew Bogut (5)
Marc Gasol (5)
Gordon Hayward (4)
Arron Afflalo (3)
C.J. Watson (3)
Brandan Wright (3)
Tony Parker (3)
Jarrett Jack (1)
Marreese Speights (1)

All-Time NBA Most Improved Player Award Winners

1985-86 Alvin Robertson, San Antonio
1986-87 Dale Ellis, Seattle
1987-88 Kevin Duckworth, Portland
1988-89 Kevin Johnson, Phoenix
1989-90 Rony Seikaly, Miami
1990-91 Scott Skiles, Orlando
1991-92 Pervis Ellison, Washington
1992-93 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Denver
1993-94 Don MacLean, Washington
1994-95 Dana Barros, Philadelphia
1995-96 Gheorghe Muresan, Washington
1996-97 Isaac Austin, Miami
1997-98 Alan Henderson, Atlanta
1998-99 Darrell Armstrong, Orlando
1999-00 Jalen Rose, Indiana
2000-01 Tracy McGrady, Orlando
2001-02 Jermaine O’Neal, Indiana
2002-03 Gilbert Arenas, Golden State
2003-04 Zach Randolph, Portland
2004-05 Bobby Simmons, L.A. Clippers
2005-06 Boris Diaw, Phoenix
2006-07 Monta Ellis, Golden State
2007-08 Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando
2008-09 Danny Granger, Indiana
2009-10 Aaron Brooks, Houston
2010-11 Kevin Love, Minnesota
2011-12 Ryan Anderson, Orlando

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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