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h0317 BC-BKN-MostImproved-Ell 1stLd-Writethru 04-26 0663

Basketball

Ellis NBA’s most improved

OAKLAND, Calif. — Monta Ellis felt forgotten when he slipped down the draft board nearly two years ago.

The NBA now knows all about the Golden State guard, who won the Most Improved Player award Thursday for his transformation from an unsung Mississippi high schooler to a speedy scoring threat for the improving Warriors.

Ellis edged Sacramento’s Kevin Martin by three points in the closest voting in the award’s history, earning 47 first-place votes and 352 points from a media panel. Martin, the Kings’ high-scoring guard, got 44 first-place votes and 349 points.

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Ellis averaged 16.5 points, 4.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds this season with new coach Don Nelson and the Warriors, who returned to the playoffs after a 12-year absence. The second-round pick improved on his 6.8-point scoring average in his rookie season.

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