Mikal Bridges and Nic Claxton, two of the Nets young core, got a measure of recognition Monday night, finish fourth and fifth respectively in the Most Improved Player balloting for 2022-23.
The award was won by Lauri Markkanen of the Jazz who basically ran away with the award, beating out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder and Jalen Brunson of the Knicks.
Bridges, 26, and Claxton, 24, are the first Nets to finish that high in MIP voting since D’Angelo Russell finished second in 2018-19. Bridges got one first place vote, one of six players to do so. Claxton received four second place votes.
The Nets were the only team to place two players in the top five. Claxton also finished 10th in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Bridges who came over in the Kevin Durant trade, improved dramatically in Brooklyn, going from 17.2 points a game with the Suns to 26.1 with the Nets. He also led the league in games, minutes and miles travelled. Claxton, who had been troubled by injury and illness his first three years in the league, put up career numbers across the board and became the first player in NBA history to average 12 points, 2.5 blocks and shoot better than 70 percent from the floor. Claxton’s 70.5% shooting led the NBA.