Philadelphia's Tyrese Maxey edges Chicago's Coby White, wins NBA's Most Improved Player award

Tyrese Maxey was sixth in the Most Improved Player voting two years ago, a tribute to the jump he made between his first and second seasons in the NBA.

Voters thought the jump he made from his third year to his fourth was even more impressive.

Philadelphia's All-Star guard on Tuesday night was named the league’s most improved this season. Maxey’s scoring rose for the third consecutive year, and he finished the regular season averaging 25.9 points, 6.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game — all career bests.

It’s not uncommon for players to see their numbers soar when given a new role, but that wasn’t the case with Maxey. Consider: two years ago, he averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 steals in 35.3 minutes per game. This year, he topped all those numbers and averaged only 2.2 more minutes per contest.

“It feels great,” Maxey said on the TNT broadcast where the award was announced. “Somebody like myself, who prides myself on putting in a lot of work and outworking people and finding ways to get 1% better every single time I step in the gym, it feels good for that to come to light, honestly.”

Maxey edged Chicago's Coby White in the voting. Houston's Alperen Sengun was third. White averaged 19.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game — all career highs. Sengun averaged 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 32.5 minutes per game — also all career highs.

The awards were selected by a panel of reporters and broadcasters who cover the league. Their ballots were due last week before the start of the play-in tournament. NBA awards take only the regular season into consideration.

Utah’s Lauri Markkanen won the MIP award last season. The other finalists from a year ago — Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and New York’s Jalen Brunson — were MVP candidates this season.

The MIP award was the first of seven individual trophies that will be handed out in the coming weeks, along with All-NBA, All-Rookie and All-Defensive teams.

The Sixth Man gets announced Wednesday (Sacramento’s Malik Monk, Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis or Minnesota’s Naz Reid); Clutch Player on Thursday (Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan or Gilgeous-Alexander); and Coach of the Year on Sunday (Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault, Minnesota’s Chris Finch or Orlando’s Jamahl Mosley).

All those announcements will be made on TNT’s pregame shows that night.

The schedule for the other awards has yet to be released by the league. There’s Rookie of the Year (San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren or Charlotte’s Brandon Miller); Defensive Player of the Year (Wembanyama, Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert or Miami’s Bam Adebayo); and Most Valuable Player (Denver’s Nikola Jokic, DallasLuka Doncic or Gilgeous-Alexander).



Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press