I wanted to know if there has been any NBA player to win the MVP after being awarded either the Most Improved Player or the Sixth Man of the Year in their careers. Also, if there isn't any, has there been any player that has come close to achieving this?

4 Answers 4


The NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award was first awarded for the 1982–83 NBA season, whereas the NBA Most Improved Player Award was first awarded following the 1985–86 season. Since the 1982-83 season, 19 different players have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, which are listed below.

  • Moses Malone
  • Larry Bird
  • Magic Johnson
  • Michael Jordan
  • Charles Barkley
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • David Robinson
  • Karl Malone
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Allen Iverson
  • Tim Duncan
  • Kevin Garnett
  • Steve Nash
  • Dirk Nowitzki
  • Kobe Bryant
  • LeBron James
  • Derrick Rose
  • Kevin Durant
  • Stephen Curry

None of the above players have won the NBA Most Improved Player Award or the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, the lists of which are available at the Wikipedia links provided above.

To answer the second part of your question, James Harden won the Sixth Man award for the 2011-12 season and in the 2014-15 season, came second in the MVP award voting, losing to Stephen Curry by 262 points(Curry 1198, Harden 936). Here is the official release from NBA for the voting results for the season. I have not combed the data for past years much, but second place seems as close as one can get to the MVP award.

  • 3
    FYI, I believe Kevin McHale was a 6th man award winner who got MVP votes in a subsequent season. He might have been 5th in MVP voting, which isn't as close as Harden, but would qualify as someone who got relatively close.
    – user527
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 13:17

James Harden


Bill Walton. League MVP (‘78) and 6th man of the year (‘86).

Technically didn’t get the MVP “after” the 6th man award, but probably worth a mention anyway.


Giannis Antetokounmpo

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