O'Neal Voted NBA's Most Improved

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jermaine O'Neal, who had career highs in points and rebounds this season for the Indiana Pacers, was selected Thursday as the NBA's most improved player.

The 6-foot-11 forward averaged 19 points and 10.3 rebounds and led the Pacers in scoring, rebounds blocked shots and minutes played.

O'Neal was selected out of high school by Portland with the 17th overall pick in the 1996 draft, but played little early in his career, averaging 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds in 211 games. He was traded to Indiana at the start of the 2000-01 season, averaging 12.9 points in his first year with the Pacers.

O'Neal received 52 of 126 votes from a media panel. Detroit's Ben Wallace, the defensive player of the year, was second with 16 and Dallas' Steve Nash was third with nine.

Tracy McGrady of Orlando won the award last year.