Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic

Ryan Anderson of the Orlando MagicThe NBA announced Friday (May 4) that Orlando Magic forward, Ryan Anderson, has been named the winner of the 2011-12 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, presented to a player who has made a significant improvement from the previous season.

The 23-year-old established career highs this season, including scoring (16.1 ppg), rebounds (7.7 rpg), field goal percentage (.439) and free throw percentage. He also paced the league and established personal bests in three-pointers made (166) and attempted (422).

Last season, Anderson averaged 10.6 ppg, and 5.5 rpg, so that’s a 5.5 ppg and 2.2 rpg increase this year. Orlando averaged 107.5 points per 100 possessions with Anderson on the court, compared to 94.1 points with the 6-10 forward on the bench.

Anderson also becomes the fifth Magic player to win the award since it was first handed out in 1986, joining Hedo Turkoglu (2008), Tracy McGrady (2001), Darrell Armstrong (1999) and Scott Skiles (1991).

“It’s very surreal for me to be sitting where I am today,” Anderson said. “A year ago if you would have said I would be the Most Improved Player, I’d probably laugh at you in the face. This year has just been a culmination of a lot of different things and a lot of different people helping me.”

According to the official press release, he received 260 of a possible 605 points, including 33 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the U.S. and Canada. Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks (159 points, 21 first-place votes) and Nikola Pekovic of the Minnesota Timberwolves (104 points, 10 first-place votes) finished second and third, respectively.

As part of of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, Kia Motors America will donate a new Kia Sorento CUV on behalf of Chandler to Art for Life Foundation, which focuses on creating programs that help kids who are undergoing physical, emotional or mental crisis to use art as a way of helping them work through and with their illness.

Kia Motors will present a brand new Sorento to the charity of choice of each of five 2011-12 year-end award winners — including Most Improved Player, Sixth Man, Most Valuable Player of the Year Awards, and this year for the first time, Rookie of the Year.