Former Bull Lauri Markkanen is Your 2022-23 Most Improved Player

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Former Bull Lauri Markkanen is Your 2022-23 Most Improved Player

Chicago Bulls, NBA, News

Lauri Markkanen’s ascent continues.

The former Bull and current member of the Utah Jazz has officially been named the 2022-23 Most Improved Player of the Year. Markkanen averaged a career-high 25.6 points to go along with 8.6 rebounds in his first season with the Jazz. He also shot 49.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from long range on a career-high 7.7 attempts per game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder finished second in the voting, while Jalen Brunson of the Knicks finished third. You can see the complete voting results here.

Also making his first All-Star appearance this season, Markkanen had the Jazz in the playoff hunt during the first half of the year. The organization, however, eventually chose to take a step back at the trade deadline and part ways with key role players like Mike Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley.

We talked about it while Markkanen was in the thick of his breakout earlier this season, but I’ll reiterate: This is bittersweet. On one hand, the Bulls are now two teams removed from Markkanen. They traded him to the Cavaliers after the 2020-21 season, and while he had a tiny resurgence in Cleveland, he still struggled to look like anything more than a limited role player.

Not to mention, it simply became apparent that Markkanen’s time in Chicago had run his course. For the sake of not repeating myself too much, I’ll drop an excerpt from my previous post about Markkanen here:

The lack of true player development and the ugly coaching change surely stunted his growth, as did the likely emergence of an All-Star player in Zach LaVine. Could there have been a way for the Bulls to tap back into this side of Markkanen’s game? Maybe. But sometimes fresh starts are also for the better, and I think Markkanen has needed that in his career to actually grow into the player we see today.

On the other hand, could some stable years under head coach Billy Donovan have helped bring this side out of Markkanen? It’s hard not to wonder at least a little, right?

I guess we’ll see if Markkanen is really able to expand on this season and turn himself into a multi-time All-Star. But it sure doesn’t feel hard to see that happening when we consider he’s still just 25 years old. Markkanen always had tremendous offensive potential, and perhaps the confidence boost that came with being handed the keys in Utah is all he needed to get on the right track.

Anyway, congrats to Lauri. I hope to see even better years ahead.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.