As expected, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love won the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, the league announced Thursday afternoon. In addition to becoming the first Timberwolf selected to an All-Star Game since Kevin Garnett, Love averaged 20.2 points and a league-leading 15.2 rebounds for Minnesota this season. Further, he diversified his offensive game by adding a three-point shot, connecting on 41.7 percent of his treys in 2.9 attempts per game.
The UCLA product won the award handily, receiving 400 award points from a panel of 116 writers and broadcasters. First-place votes were worth five points, second-place votes three, and third-place votes one. LaMarcus Aldridge (157 points) and Dorell Wright (124 points) were the closest to beating Love for the award.
Love, just 22, averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds in a promising sophomore campaign, but made the leap to stardom this season. He became the second player in history, joining Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley, to average at least four offensive rebounds and one made three-pointer per game over the course of a single season, and Love did so while topping Barkley’s poor 28.3 percent shooting mark on threes.
Love accepted the award at a Target Center press conference, where he attributed his success to increased confidence, working with an athletic trainer, and his experience winning the gold medal for the United States in the FIBA World Championships last summer. He also thanked Wolves fans for their support, saying “the fans at Target Center were great all year.”
In addition to receiving the award, Love also earned a Kia Sorento, which he said he will donate to the Dylan Witschen Foundation.
Notably, Wolves head coach Kurt Rambis was not on hand for the press conference, which strongly suggests he will not return to the club next season.
Kevin Love will likely be named the NBA's Most Improved Player on Thursday as the Minnesota Timberwolves public relations staff announced the team Wolves will host press conference at 2 p.m. on the Target Center's main floor to make a "major" NBA award announcement.
Love probably would have been in consideration to be the NBA's Most Valuable Player if his averages of 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds had come on a winning team -- or at least not the losingest team -- but if he gets the MIP award, at least something positive will come out of the Wolves' season (and that's not even counting possibly getting the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA Draft).
Of course, the award being announced on Thursday isn't necessarily going to be the NBA's Most Improved Player award, but the other possibilities are the aforementioned MVP award (which will be announced last), Rookie of the Year award (Lazar Hayward, Nikola Pekovic and Wesley Johnson weren't bad this season, but also weren't the best) Coach of the Year award (Sorry, Kurt Rambis, but no) and the Sportsmanship Award (no Wolves players are finalists).
Log on to www.timberwolves.com at 2 p.m. tommorow to watch the press conference stream live.