Bulls' Zach LaVine finishes 5th in NBA's Most Improved Player vote

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Zach LaVine finishes top 5 in Most Improved Player vote originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Zach LaVine said it. So did Billy Donovan and Artūras Karnišovas.

Now, there's more proof.

After making the jump to his first All-Star selection in his best individual season, LaVine and Chicago Bulls brass talked about his improvement. Tuesday night, LaVine's efforts drew some feedback from national media when he finished fifth in the NBA's Most Improved Player voting, an award won by the New York Knicks' Julius Randle.

RELATED: Zach LaVine's career-best season for Bulls, by the numbers

Like LaVine, Randle made his first All-Star appearance playing for a shared coach in Tom Thibodeau, whom LaVine played for with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Randle drew 98 of 100 first-place votes in balloting by a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. LaVine drew five second- and five third-place votes to finish fifth behind the Detroit Pistons' Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr. and Houston Rockets' Christian Wood.

In a mild surprise, Nikola Vučević also drew one second-place vote.

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In his seventh season, LaVine posted career-highs in scoring at 27.4 points, rebounds at 5, assists at 4.9, field-goal percentage at 50.7, 3-point percentage at 41.9 and free-throw percentage at 84.9. He fell six assists and one made free throw shy of becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to average 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the line.

"He was a much better player this year," Karnišovas said.

Coincidentally, Jimmy Butler, whom LaVine was traded for in 2017, won this award in 2015.

LaVine isn't satisfied. After making his first All-Star game, he said he has his sights on earning an All-Defense and All-NBA designation as well as finally leading the Bulls to the playoffs. Stay tuned.

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