SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Lauri Markkanen was named as a finalist for the NBA Most Improved Player award, while Walker Kessler is a finalist for the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Markkanen went from averaging 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game with Cleveland last year, to scoring 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Jazz this past year. Markkanen also improved his field goal shooting from 44.5 percent to 49.9 percent this year. His three-point shooting also increased by 3.8 percent.

Markkanen earned his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, starting on his home court at Vivint Arena. The other two nominees are Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and and New York guard Jalen Brunson.

Kessler averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his first season out of the University of Auburn. Since becoming a starter for the Jazz over the last 34 games of the season, Kessler averaged over 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game.

Kessler was a part of the Rising Stars Challenge All-Star Weekend, and was voted the NBA Rookie of the Month in February.

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero is also nominated, along with Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams.

The winners will be announced next week.