By Johnny Edward:
Indiana Pacers Nigerian-born basketball star Victor Oladipo has been named the most improved player at the 2018 NBA Awards staged at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, USA.
Oladipo averaged 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists last season for the Indiana Pacers.
Oladipo becomes the fifth Pacer to win the award. He joins Jalen Rose (1999-2000), Jermaine O’Neal (2001-02), Danny Granger (2008-09), and Paul George (2012-13).
Oladipo thanked the Pacers fans for the massive support throughout the season in his speech.
“I first would like to thank the voters,” said Oladipo. “They follow the NBA closely, they have difficult choices to make and I appreciate that they recognized me for this.
“I want to thank the Indiana Pacers’ organization for believing in me and what we could accomplish this past season. My teammates, coaches, training staff, I can’t thank enough for making me a better player from the first day I arrived. We had a special group that I was proud to be a part of every day.
“I share this with the Pacers, the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana. The support I received from everyone last season meant so much to myself and my family. An individual may win an award, but it is shared with many because they all had a part. This is only the beginning for us. The best is yet to come.”
Meanwhile, James Harden was named the NBA MVP. Houston Rockets star Harden beat fellow superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis to the MVP award. The award was his first MVP award in the NBA.
Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers was named the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year. Simmons, 21, averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists in his rookie year.
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz took home Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who was fired after the season, was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Casey was named the head coach of the Detroit Pistons after the season.
LeBron James won both the assist and clutch shot of the year and was awarded the play of the year by the fans for his game-winning three-pointer against the Minnesota Timberwolves before the All-Star break.