Jazz guard John Stockton finished second to Portland center Kevin Duckworth in voting for the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
Duckworth received 33 votes from an 80-member media panel to 15 for Stockton and 11 for Cleveland guard Mark Price."I figured I was in the running, but I wasn't worried about it," said Stockton.
"I thought he had a shot at it, but Duckworth deserved it," said Coach Frank Layden. "(Duckworth) had a great year and worked so hard in the summer. There's a guy another team (San Antonio) had given up on, and he has an impact."
The 7-foot, 275-pound Duckworth said, "I'm the type of person that if you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to do it."
Duckworth became Portland's starting center when Steve Johnson was injured and improved his scoring average from 5.4 to 15.8 in his second year. In the final game of the playoffs against the Jazz last week, he had 33 points and 10 rebounds.
Stockton improved his scoring average from 7.9 to 14.7 and his assists from 8.2 to 13.8 in his fourth season, his first as a full-time starter. Besides breaking the NBA record for assists in a season (1,128), Stockton finished third in the league in steals (2.95) and fourth in field-goal shooting (.574), the second-best figure for a guard in NBA history.
Previous winners of the award were San Antonio's Alvin Robertson in 1986 and Seattle's Dale Ellis in 1987.
- Kurt Kragthorpe