Members of the media decided to snub Luka Doncic. He finished in third-place in the race for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram took home this year’s honors.
Ingram received 42 first-place votes, 35 second-place votes, and 11 third-place votes for a total of 326 points overall.
Doncic earned just 12 first-, 10 second-, and 11 third-place votes for 101 overall points.
Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat came in second-place overall with 38 first-, 30 second-, and 15 third-place votes. He tallied 295 total points.
In just his second season, the Dallas Mavericks’ budding superstar made an incredible leap after winning Rookie of the Year the year before. Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.
Those numbers represent improvements of 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists over his rookie averages. Doncic’s shooting percentage also jumped. He shot 46.3% overall this year compared to 42.7% last season.
Ingram also saw a jump in production, although not nearly as significant.
The four-year veteran increased his averages to 23.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Those are jumps of 5.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists compared to last season.
He also shot the ball worse this year—46.3%, the same as Doncic. Ingram connected on a smooth 49.7% last season.
Regardless of actually looking at improvement and basic numbers, the voters saw fit for Ingram to take home the prize. This by no means means he doesn’t deserve it.
What probably hurt Doncic’s case is his sheer ascendancy in the NBA’s ranks. He was in the MVP discussion this season and deservedly so. He’ll likely be there again next year and more the foreseeable future.
It should be noted that Doncic never wanted to be in the running for Most Improved Player. He’s modest about personal accolades, after all.
“Take me off the list and put Devonte’ Graham [of the Charlotte Hornets] on there,” Doncic told Dallas Morning News reporter Brad Townsend when he was named a finalist earlier in August. “I don’t deserve to be on there.”
Still, it does feel like a slight that Doncic finished third in the voting. Maybe the media will feel obliged to give him the superstar calls—and awards—he deserves one day.