Raptors' Pascal Siakam captures NBA's most improved player award

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam won the NBA's most improved player award. Siakam beat out D'Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets and De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings for the honour on Monday night. He is the first Raptor to earn the award.

Toronto forward averaged 16.9 points per game in 3rd season

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, seen above speaking to the media earlier this month, was picked 27th overall out of New Mexico State in 2016. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has won the NBA's most improved player award.

Siakam, who helped the Raptors win their first NBA championship this month, beat out D'Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets and De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings for the honour at the NBA Awards show Monday night. He is the first Raptor to earn the honour.

Siakam averaged 16.9 points per game in his third year in the NBA this past season, up from 7.3 last year.

The native of Cameroon was rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup after coming off the bench most of last year.

WATCH | Siakam takes home most improved player award: 

The Raptors' forward took home some hardware at the NBA Awards in the same month his team won the NBA title. 0:52

"I want to thank the Toronto Raptors for believing in me — a little scrawny kid from Cameroon," said Siakam when he recieved the award.

Siakam also thanked his family, who was in the audience, for their support. He said he gets his work ethic from his mom, who he called "superwoman."

"For the people who know my story, also know how important my dad is and him not being able to be here today," said Siakam, whose father was killed in a car accident in 2014.

"He had this crazy dream ... that this would be possible and me being here," said Siakam. "I'm just blessed to be able to make his dream a reality."

WATCH | Siakam shares his thoughts on the award: 

Pascal Siakam compares his most improved player award to winning a NBA title. 1:16

While the awards are given for regular-season performances, Siakam also made a big leap in the playoffs. He average 19 points and 7.1 rebounds in the 2019 playoffs, up from 6.6 and 3.6 last year.

Siakam, 25, was picked 27th overall out of New Mexico State in 2016.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri said the award recognizes the countless hours Pascal spent in the gym working on his game and his contributions to the team.

"We are so proud of Pascal," Ujiri said. "His story is amazing and it shows what hard work and belief in yourself can do. We first met him at Basketball Without Borders in 2012, and seven years later, he is an NBA champion."

Antetokounmpo is league's best

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks won most valuable player honours at the NBA Awards.

The 24-year-old forward from Greece beat out Paul George of Oklahoma City and James Harden of Houston, who won last year.

WATCH | Antetokounmpo collects MVP award: 

The Bucks' forward averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. 1:07

Antetokounmpo earned All-NBA first-team honours this season, his sixth with the Bucks. He led the franchise to the best record in the regular season and the Bucks fell two games short of reaching the NBA Finals.

He averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he thanked his teammates during his speech.

Familiar territory for Budenholzer

Milwaukee's Mike Budenholzer won coach of the year honours for the second time in his career. 

He guided the Bucks to a 60-22 record in the regular season in his first year with the franchise, leading them to the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to eventual NBA champion Toronto.

He got choked up while thanking his wife and kids Monday night.

He earned his first Coach of the Year trophy with Atlanta in 2015.

Budenholzer beat out Denver's Mike Malone and Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers.

I was saying Lou

Lou Williams won sixth man of the year for the second season in a row and third time in his career.

The guard also won last year with the Los Angeles Clippers. His first honor came in 2015 with Toronto.

Williams beat out teammate Montrezl Harrell, with whom he formed the highest-scoring bench duo in NBA history last season, and Domantas Sabonis of Indiana.

Williams became the career leader in points off the bench during the season. He said backstage that this year's award is different because he went into the season wanting a third honor to cement his legacy in coming off the bench throughout his career.

Doncic named top rookie

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks won rookie of the year. 

The 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia accepted his trophy from RJ Barrett, who went to the New York Knicks as the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft last week.

Doncic was the No. 3 pick last year.

The other finalists were Deandre Ayton of Phoenix and Trae Young of Atlanta.

Also Monday, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz won defensive player of the year for the second straight season.

The 26-year-old centre from France beat out Antetokounmpo and George. 

With files from The Associated Press