Phoenix’s versatile combo guard, Goran Dragic, today was named the winner of the 2013-14 Most Improved Player Award by the NBA after leading the Suns to a 23-win improvement and a near playoff berth in the highly competitive Western Conference. The award is given annually to a player who has made a significant improvement from the previous year, and this season Dragic established career highs in scoring and field goal percentage.
Dragic received 408 of a possible 1,134 points, including 65 first-place votes, from a panel of 126 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.
Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers (158 points, 13 first-place votes) and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (155 points, 16 first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third place vote received.
Los Angeles Clippers DeAndre Jordan (66 points) and Blake Griffin (39 points) also received votes. Jodie Meeks (3 points) was the lone LA Laker to receive any votes.
The lefty Dragic is an energetic player who showed the ability to score on both slashing drives and outside shots. In fact, he shot a career-best .505 from the field, including a .408 mark from behind the three-point arc. He was the only player in the NBA to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range.
Dragic, who entered the 2013-14 campaign with a career scoring average of 9.5 points, averaged 20.3 points to go with 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, as the Suns finished with a record of 48-34, one game behind the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
Dragic started 75 of the 76 games he played, and kept the Suns in playoff contention despite the extended absence of teammate Eric Bledsoe, who was limited to 43 games this season.
Past winners are:
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
2012-13 Paul George, Indiana
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services