ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Larry Sanders has always loved blocks, just ask the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks have launched a creative and unique campaign promoting their third-year center for the NBA's Most Improved and Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Centering around what Sanders does best - blocked shots or blocks - the campaign has two main elements. First, the Bucks launched a website (www.larryblocks.com) that has facts and statistics backing Sanders for the two awards and highlight videos, including one of a child depicting a two-year old version of Sanders playing with blocks.
The most creative part of the campaign is a set of blocks the Bucks sent out to the 122 media members who vote on the league's awards. When put together, the blocks can spell "Larry Sanders", "Most Improved" or "Defensive POY".
Facts and statistical notes about Sanders' season fill one of the other sides of the blocks. It's hard to beat the creativity and effort the Bucks organization put into promoting Sanders for the two awards, and he appreciates the lengths they've gone to for him.
"It's wonderful that they sat there and put those blocks together," Sanders said. "There's over 2000 blocks. The effort that they put into it was amazing. I'm really grateful to this organization for doing this for me."
Sanders will be right in the mix for the Most Improved Player of the Year. His growth from last season has been nothing short of amazing. Sanders played just 12.4 minutes per game in 2011-12, averaging just 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
With so many frontcourt players on the roster, Sanders could have got lost in the shuffle. Instead he emerged from the pack and has turned into one of the cornerstones of the franchise and Milwaukee's starting center.
Sanders spent most of the season leading the NBA in blocks per game, but Oklahoma City center Serge Ibaka recently passed him. Ibaka averages 3.07 blocks per game, while Sanders is second in the league at 2.90.
His blocks per game have fell a bit because the league has now recognized him as an elite shot blocker, but he has altered a large amount of shots, something that is impossible to track.
Though he's turned into one of the better defensive players in basketball, Sanders has also made strides offensively. He averaged 12.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game in March and is up to 14.0 points per game in April.
"It would be great," Sanders said of what winning one of the awards would mean to him. "It would be great to show my how work and how people feel about me. It's just hard for me to focus on that right now with so many other things at the front of my mind. We have the playoffs coming up and I want the team to be playing at the highest level."
Because the Bucks are a playoff team, Sanders' profile and chances to win one of the two awards are greater.
"When we win, everyone gains," Sanders said. "I think that's where the focus is. Keep the focus on winning games and being successful as a team. All the individual awards will just fall into place, I think."
And even if Sanders doesn't end up winning one of the awards this season, the Bucks get an "A" for effort for coming up with quite the unique way to promote one of their players.
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