Julius Randle has won the 2020–21 Most Improved Player award, submitting one of the best seasons in the history of the Knicks.
Julius Randle has won the 2020–21 NBA Most Improved Player award, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. After a poor first season in New York, Randle rebounded with 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 71 games played. His biggest improvement came in his outside shooting, going from 27.7% to 41.1% in his second season in New York. As a result of Randle’s improvement, the Knicks went from a 26-win team to a team that went 41-31 and earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Randle’s victory continues a banner season for the former Kentucky forward. Randle will most likely close out the season with his first-ever All-Star appearance, Most Improved Player award, a spot on one of the three All-NBA teams, and some MVP votes. Entering the final year of a three-year, $63 million contract, the Knicks will have the ability to retain Randle for the 2021–22 season for just $19.8 million. A contract extension, something the Knicks and Randle will discuss in the offseason, is looming.
Looking at the votes, Randle earned 98 of 100 possible first-place votes, with the two other first-place votes going to Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant. Additionally, Knicks teammate R.J. Barrett earned two third-place votes.
Julius Randle received 98/100 first place votes 🏆 🔒 pic.twitter.com/kmKocw73kc
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) May 25, 2021
Randle is the first Knick to win the award and the first Knick to garner votes for the award since Kristaps Porzingis did in the 2016–17 balloting. Since 2010, Randle is one of five Knicks to have received MIP votes since the 2010–11 season, joining Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony in 2012–13, Steve Novak in 2011–12, Amar’e Stoudemire in 2010–11.
The Knicks, with Randle, host the Atlanta Hawks for Game 2 of the first-round playoff series at the Garden on Wednesday, where we could see the new Most Improved Player receive his honor in front of roughly 15,000 fans. However, Randle and the Knicks will be on a mission to tie up the series after Atlanta stole Game 1 in cold-blooded fashion.