Ja Morant named NBA's Most Improved Player, gives trophy to Desmond Bane

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Ja Morant was already plenty good.

But the third-year pro, who earned Rookie of the Year in 2020, made a leap too big this season for the NBA to ignore. The Memphis Grizzlies guard was named the league's Most Improved Player on Monday. Morant beat out San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, who were fellow finalists for the award.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 24: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter of the game during Game Four of the Western Conference First Round at Target Center on April 24, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Grizzlies 119-118 to tie the series 2-2. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Ja Morant has another trophy for his case. (David Berding/Getty Images)

Shortly after winning the award, Morant posted on social media that he gave the trophy to teammate Desmond Bane, who was one of seven players to receive first-place votes for the award.

"He deserve it," Morant wrote on Twitter.

It didn't take long for Bane to find his gift.

How Morant won MIP

After averaging 19.1 points while shooting 44.9% from the field and 30.3% from 3-point distance last season, Morant made significant leaps in all three categories this season, averaging 27.4 points, 6.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds and shooting 49.3% from the field and 34.4% from 3-point distance.

His Grizzlies also improved from 38-34 and the No. 8 seed in the West last season to 56-26, good for the No. 2 seed in the West and the second-best record in the NBA. Memphis is currently tied 2-2 in its first-round playoff series with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Morant responded to news of the award on Twitter Monday evening.

Morant earned 38 of 100 first-place votes for the award, while Murray tallied 20 and Garland 11. Golden State's Jordan Poole, Bane, Philadelphia's Tyrese Maxey and Charlotte's Miles Bridges also received first-place votes.

Morant's effort this season also earned him his first All-Star bid in February.

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