(LOS ANGELES) Utah Jazz Finnish inside Lauri Markkanen has been named the most improved player over the past regular season, the NBA announced Monday.

The 25-year-old Markkanen averaged 25.6 points, almost 11 points better than the previous season. A record progression in this area.

Particularly skilful (49.9% shooting success and 87.5% on the free throw line), he also captured 8.6 rebounds per game. Enough to allow him to be selected for the All-Star Game for the first time in his career in February.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Markkanen told TNT from Helsinki, where he is doing his military service. “It’s a huge privilege to be in this position.”

Measuring 2.13m, the one whose parents were both professional basketball players, Markkanen was selected in 7th position of the draft in 2017 by Minnesota. He then played for Chicago and Cleveland before landing in Utah last September, in a multi-player trade that notably sent Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz to the Cavaliers.

“I was just in the right place at the right time. I always give credit to guys who found me when I was in favorable positions. I just tried to be consistent every night and play a leadership role in the locker room. I’m still working on it,” he commented.

He is the first European to win the accolade since Greek Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2017, and the first Jazz player to be so honored.

He edged out two other finalists, New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.