The 2020-21 NBA season has been a breakout year for New York Knicks star Julius Randle. After missing the postseason in his first year with the Knicks, the first time All-Star has helped lead the franchise to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference and their first postseason berth since 2013.
On the year Randle is averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, three-point percentage, and free-throw percentage. It is one of the biggest offensive turnarounds in recent memory. Even with all that he has accomplished this season Randle’s already epic season could soon see an even bigger boost.
Randle Named As Finalist for Most Improved Player Award
On Friday, the NBA announced all the finalists for the league’s regular season awards. Randle is a finalist for the league’s Most Improved Player award, along with Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. He could become the first player in Knicks’ history to win the honors.
Nets head coach Tom Thibodeau is a finalist to win the NBA’s Coach of the Year award along with Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams and Quinn Snyder of the Utah Jazz. In his first year with the Knicks, Thibs has created a lunch pail and hard hat culture within the locker room which has equated to great success for New York. Despite the career season that Randle is having the first time All-Star acknowledges that none of it would be possible without Thibodeau.
Randle Credits ‘Thibs’ for Knicks’ Success
“More than any team I’ve ever been on, with this year’s Knicks, it feels like we have a collective purpose. And I think that’s also one of the things that Thibs has been great at bringing to the table. This idea of how we can have our goals as individuals, and then our goals as a team…. and if we have the right mindset, there’s no reason those goals can’t feed into each other,” Randle wrote in The Player’s Tribune.
“It just feels like something good is happening. And I guess that’s how I feel about my own season as well. It’s been a lot of hard work paying off: as a shooter, as a passer, as a leader — man, you name it. And on a personal level, like I said… it’s been a long and winding road.”
The same way ‘Thibs’ has instilled belief in his star player, Randle has had to echo those same beliefs to the rest of his teammates. The Knicks are exuding extreme confidence heading into the playoffs and the team believes that the sky is the limit.
“I’ve been painting the picture of it to these guys all year. Just the other day I was talking about it with Obi and them,” Randle continued. “I was like, y’all don’t even realize… if we can put some wins together here?? Get this thing going for the playoffs?? Get New York popping?? Maybe even there’s crowds by then, and we get the Garden popping?? Y’all don’t even know. There’s not another fan base in the league that can match what these Knicks fans will give us — if we’re taking care of our business.”
The Knicks kick off their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.