Kemba Walker received seven first-place votes for the NBA's Most Improved Player award, but came up well short of the 101 votes received by the Portland Trail Blazers' C.J. McCollum, who won the award. Walker finished second in Most Improved Player voting, with 166 "points", with McCollum tallying 559 and third-place Giannis Antetokounmpo picking up 99. Stephen Curry finished fourth with 83 points.
You can see the full voting data here.
Walker had a tremendous 2016 season, improving in nearly every area and subsequently putting up career-high per-36 numbers across the board.
Much of Walker's improvement can be attributed to the work he's put in on his 3-point shot. Last summer, there were concerns Walker might not be a long-term option at point guard for the Hornets if he couldn't make open shots, which is crucial for a player his size at his position. Those concerns were valid, too — Walker shot just 30.5 percent from behind the 3-point line in 2015, and attempted about 4.5 per game on top of it.
However, after working with assistant coach Bruce Kreutzer on his shooting form, his shooting percentages improved dramatically. This season, Walker is shooting 37.1 percent from behind the arc. And to think all it really took was moving the ball a few inches to the right of his head.
His improved shooting led the Hornets to a 28-13 record when he scored 20 or more points, compared to 11-9 in that same situation last season.
While Walker didn't win the award, it's nice to see the NBA recognizing his dramatic improvement. Charlotte's been a big of an underdog for the national spotlight, but we're beginning to see Hornets finish second or third or near the top of post-season award voting. Last year, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished ninth in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
Now, the Hornets need Walker to lead the Hornets to victory against the Miami Heat on Saturday. The Hornets are down 0-2 in the series, and if they're to get back into it they're going to need great efforts from Kemba.