The NBA officially announced Thursday morning that Bulls guard Jimmy Butler is the 2014-15 Most Improved Player.
Butler, who torched the Bucks in Round 1 of the playoffs to the tune of 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, took home 92 of 129 first-place votes. He finished with 535 total points, more than doubling up Golden State’s Draymond Green, who finished with 200 points. Utah’s Rudy Gobert finished third, with Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Golden State’s Klay Thompson rounding out the top five.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished seventh, garnering one first-place vote, three second-place votes and eight third-place votes to total 22 points. Khris Middleton finished 13th, earning four third-place votes.
Here’s the complete voting breakdown:
If you’re wondering who each writer/media personality voted for, you can find that here.
Notably, Antetokounmpo’s lone first-place vote came from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Antetokounmpo received third-place votes from ESPN’s JA Adande, Chris Broussard and Jon Barry, as well as WTMJ’s Ted Davis, among others.
Bill Oram (Orange County Register), CF Gardner (Journal Sentinel), Paul Coro (Arizona Republic) and Tom Heinsohn (CSN New England) were responsible for Middleton’s four votes.
It’s tough to argue with the results, especially at the top. Butler’s numbers increased across the board – most notably, a jump from 13.1 to 20.0 points per game – without an increase in minutes over last season. Green was the do-it-all glue guy for a Golden State juggernaut that won 67 games, and both Gobert and Whiteside emerged from relative obscurity to establish themselves as two of the best defensive centers in the league.
Antetokounmpo placing seventh seems about right. He made major strides in his second season but struggled with consistency and ultimately still has plenty of work to do on the offensive end. On the other hand, Middleton was probably Milwaukee’s most consistent offensive player, and he’s headed for a major payday this summer. However, from a pure numbers perspective, his 2014-15 campaign wasn’t all that much better than last season. His scoring improved by less than a point-and-a-half per game, while his three-point percentage dropped slightly from 41.4 percent to 40.7 percent.
That’s not to say Middleton didn’t improve in second year with the Bucks (he did), he simply didn’t show the kind of improvement necessary to warrant genuine consideration for the award.