According to Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George has been named the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2012-13 season.
George, 22, made his first All-Star Game in 2013, emerging in the absence of the injured Danny Granger to average career highs of 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals. Regarded as one of the league’s premier perimeter defenders, George was a key piece in Indiana’s top-ranked defense. He also led the Pacers in scoring and helped them to a 49-32 record, third best in the Eastern Conference.
George is the fourth Pacers player to win the award, following Granger (2008-09), Jermaine O’Neal (’01-02) and Jalen Rose (’99-00).
George received 52 first-place votes, finishing ahead of the Hornets’ Greivis Vasquez (13 first-place votes), the Bucks’ Larry Sanders (10), the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic (10) and the Sixers’ Jrue Holiday (10). Some other notable players who received at least a vote: Joakim Noah, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden Kenneth Faried and Brook Lopez.
Unlike the other individual awards that will be handed out this season, there is no real debate to be had, on whether or not George was the deserving winner. He took the biggest leap of any player in the NBA this season.