Few expected the New York Knicks to make a push for the playoffs, let alone come away with home-court advantage in the first round. Maybe even fewer expected the jump Julius Randle made this season
On Tuesday night, Randle was officially awarded for it when he was named the NBA’s 2020-21 Most Improved Player.
“I just wanna say thank you to everybody involved,” Randle told reporters on a videoconference shortly after being named the winner. “I mean it truly was a team thing. Everybody in the Knicks organization, top to bottom, I can’t thank everybody enough.
“All my teammates, everybody, they trust me and empower me. I just wanna thank them for allowing me to lead them. And then my family, my wife, my son, everybody, like everybody, has played a part in helping me continue to become the best version of me on and off the court.”
Randle’s son, Kyden, surprised his dad with the award after the Knicks’ practice on Tuesday. Randle received 98 first-place votes out of a possible 100. Detroit’s Jerami Grant, who finished second, received the other two. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. finished third.
|Player (Team)||1st-Place Votes||2nd-Place||3rd-Place||Total Points|
|Julius Randle (New York)||98||1||0||493|
|Jerami Grant (Detroit)||2||33||31||140|
|Michael Porter Jr. (Denver)||0||40||18||138|
|Christian Wood (Houston)||0||10||14||44|
|Zach LaVine (Chicago)||0||5||5||20|
|Jaylen Brown (Boston)||0||1||7||10|
|Chris Boucher (Toronto)||0||3||1||10|
|Mikal Bridges (Phoenix)||0||0||8||8|
|Zion Williamson (New Orleans)||0||2||0||6|
|Nikola Vučević (Chicago)||0||1||0||3|
|Clint Capela (Atlanta)||0||1||0||3|
|Jordan Poole (Golden State)||0||1||0||3|
|Jordan Clarkson (Utah)||0||1||0||3|
|Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City)||0||1||0||3|
|Darius Garland (Cleveland)||0||0||3||3|
|Kyle Anderson (Memphis)||0||0||2||2|
|RJ Barrett (New York)||0||0||2||2|
|Miles Bridges (Charlotte)||0||0||2||2|
|Lonzo Ball (New Orleans)||0||0||1||1|
|T.J. McConnell (Indiana)||0||0||1||1|
|Andrew Wiggins (Golden State)||0||0||1||1|
|Richaun Holmes (Sacramento)||0||0||1||1|
|Bojan Bogdanović (Utah)||0||0||1||1|
|Terry Rozier (Charlotte)||0||0||1||1|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||0||0||1||1|
|NOTE: 1st-place vote = 5 points; 2nd-place vote = 3 points; 3rd-place vote = 1 point|
A seven-year veteran, Randle is only the second player to win the award in his seventh season or later, joining Hedo Turkoglu, who won it in his eighth season in 2007-08.
In his first six seasons in the league, Randle made 168 3-pointers while shooting 29.5% from deep. This season with New York, he made 160 3-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game.
Randle averaged career highs in points (24.1), rebounds (10.2), assists (6.0), 3-point percentage (41.1%) and free throw percentage (81.1%).
Randle’s volume of 3-point shooting initially took off two seasons ago with the New Orleans Pelicans. After attempting a combined 144 3-pointers in the previous three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle attempted 195 in his lone season with the Pelicans.
He credited then-Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry for giving him the opportunity to begin to expand his game out to the perimeter. Randle recalled early during his time with New Orleans that Gentry told him he can shoot the ball and wanted him to start launching more 3-pointers.