UPDATE: The NBA has made it official—Jimmy Butler is the 2014-15 Most Improved Player.
From the press release:
The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler, who earned his first All-Star selection and set career highs in scoring, rebounding and assists, has won the 2014-15 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, the NBA announced today. Butler becomes the first player to win the award with the Bulls.
The award is designed to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons. Butler, 25, received 92 of 129 first-place votes and 535 total points from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors (11 first-place votes, 200 points) and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz (12 first-place votes, 189 points) 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.
Butler, in his fourth NBA season, averaged 20.0 points (15th in the NBA), 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.75 steals (11th in the NBA) in a league-leading 38.7 minutes for a Chicago team that went 50-32 and secured the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The 6-7 guard shot 46.2 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three-point range. He also ranked seventh in the league in free throw attempts with 463 and converted a career-high 83.4 percent from the foul line in 65 games.
Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler will be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this week, according to multiple published reports.
Butler is 1st in franchise history to win Most Improved Player. Aaron Brooks is on roster now but won with Houston in 2010.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 6, 2015
Butler, 25, raised his scoring average from 13.1 points per game to 20.0 and became an Eastern Conference All-Star for the first time in his career this season.
For the time being, Butler is a lot more focused on the challenge of slowing down LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in their postseason battle.
Butler: "If we don't get to four wins in this series, that award (MIP) means nothing."
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 7, 2015
Sources say Butler could be officially introduced as the league’s MIP award winner as early as Thursday, with Friday’s Game 3 at home against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals looming as a natural opportunity for the NBA to present Butler with the award in front of his home fans at the United Center.
Butler said after the Bulls’ 106-91 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night that he’s focused on winning games rather than the award. […] “I want to win this series, I want to win the championship, and at the end of the season, maybe that Most Improved award will mean a lot more,” he said.
Other top candidates for the award included Golden State’s Draymond Green, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton.