Frenchman wins NBA Most Improved Player

2nd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, May 1, 2006 (AFP) - Frenchman Boris Diaw, enjoying a career-best season for the Phoenix Suns, won the National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player for the 2005-2006 season, the league announced here Monday.

NEW YORK, May 1, 2006 (AFP) - Frenchman Boris Diaw, enjoying a career-best season for the Phoenix Suns, won the National Basketball Association's Most Improved Player for the 2005-2006 season, the league announced here Monday.

The 24-year-old forward received 489 points in voting from a North American media panel, including 80 first-place votes. Players received five points for first, three points for second and one for third on ballots.

"I'm really happy to get this award. It's good for people to recognise your work," Diaw said. "You try to get better but not only for yourself. The principal goal is to help your team get better.

"I give all the credit to the team and the coaching staff. We have team spirit. That's what I needed to be above all the other players. That helped me to do what I do, give me confidence. That's why I was able to get better."

David West of the New Orleans-Oklahoma City Hornets was second with 283 points and 22 firsts. New Jersey's Nenad Krstic, a Serbian, was third with 65 points.

Diaw averaged 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and .435 shooting for the Atlanta Hawks in his first two NBA seasons but has flourished since being traded to the Suns last August for guard Joe Johnson and two draft picks.

Diaw has averaged career highs of 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 52.6 percent shooting accuracy for the Suns this year.

"I improved a lot in my shooting. I've been improving in a lot of different areas. I always want to get better. Because I'm a versatile player, I have to work on all areas of my game. Shooting is the biggest part this season."

In 142 games with the Hawks, Diaw managed to score 10 or more points just 14 times. With the Suns this season he has reached double figures 61 times, passed out five or more assists 61 times and taken five or more rebounds 62 times.

"It's really important for a coach to have players like him, players who make it fun to come to the practice court," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Guys like this make it all worthwhile.

"He's one of the best. He did get most improved but he still has a long ways to go. He knows that and he will get there because he will put in the work."

Diaw, expected to play only a supporting role when the season began, emerged as a starter and joined Cleveland superstar LeBron James and New Jersey guard Jason Kidd as the only NBA players to average six rebounds and six assists this season.

The first-round NBA Draft selection, 21st overall by Atlanta in 2003, made four "triple doubles" this season, becoming only the fourth Sun to achieve the feat in consecutive games to join Kidd, Alvan Adams and legend Charles Barkley.

"Each week that passed, I can't say how many times we were in front of the film saying, 'This guy can play,'" D'Antoni said.

Diaw praised D'Antoni as well for seeing from the start how a projected reserve could become an impact player.

"It was great the way he used me, the way he saw my potential and how I could help this team," Diaw said.

Diaw became only the second Phoenix player to grab the honours in its 21-year history, joining guard Kevin Johnson who took the title in 1989.

Tony Parker, Diaw's compatriot who plays guard for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, shared sixth in the Most Improved Player voting with 29 points, drawing three first-place votes.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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