NBA: Indiana's George named most improved player

Paul George, who sparked the Indiana Pacers into the NBA playoffs with the best season of his career, was named the NBA's Most Improved Player on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old swingman averaged a team-best 17.4 points, grabbed 7.6 rebounds, passed out 4.7 assists and blocked 1.8 shots a game -- all career highs for the third-year standout as the Pacers won the Central division title.

Indiana and Atlanta are playing each other in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

George was the only player in the NBA with at least 140 steals and 50 blocked shots, having 143 steals and 51 blocks. He had 19 games with three steals and 29 appearances with at least one steal and one block.

In voting on the award by a media panel, George received 311 of a possible 1,080 points, including 52 first-place ballots. Greivis Vasquez of New Orleans was second with 146 points, five more than Larry Sanders of Milwaukee.

George became the fourth Pacer player to receive the award, joining Jalen Rose in 2000, Jermaine O'Neal in 2002 and Danny Granger in 2009.