Knicks’ Randle Earns Most Improved Player, Continuing Historic Year

Julius Randle

Getty Julius Randle preparing to take a free throw during an April 11 game against the Toronto Raptors.

Ahead of the second game of their first-round playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks received word on one of their three finalists for the NBA’s annual awards.

All-Star forward Julius Randle is the league’s 2021 Most Improved Player recipient.

The 26-year old, in his sixth NBA season, improved almost every area of his game, going from what most Knicks fans would say was “unwatchable,” to now a centerpiece of New York’s first playoff team in eight years.

When asked how he viewed the honor, Randle was humble (via the New York Daily News) when speaking to the TNT crew:

If you look at the trajectory of my career, every year I’ve taken steps forward and improved my game. That’s really what I’m proud of. I never want to feel like I’m staying in the same spot or not getting better. So for me, I think this award really embodies who I am as a person.

He finished the regular season averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists per game.

This latest accolade is just a continued reminder of his dominance and the historic turnaround this season.

The Presentation

Fans had already seen a heartwarming presentation of the Sixth Man of the Year award on Monday, between teammates Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz.

Julius Randle’s receiving of the Most Improved Player award was no different.

The first-time All-Star was handed the trophy by none other than his son, Kyden, who quickly captured the hearts of New York Knicks fans everywhere well before Tuesday’s ceremony.

Fans will get to relive the experience ahead of Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks when Randle will be presented the award once again, this time in front of the crowd at Madison Square Garden.

Fitting, as he’s the first New York Knicks player to ever win the award.

Randle’s Case was Near-Unanimous

The finalists were announced for Most Improved Player last week, with Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons and Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets joining Julius Randle on the ballot.

But despite tweets and claims that this would be a close race, the actual voting ballot says the opposite.

Randle earned 98 out of 100 first-place votes, with those going to Grant, who’s had a similarly structured, strong season as the centerpiece of Detroit’s rebuilding campaign.

This year also represented the first All-Star nomination of his career, and what is expected to be Second or Third All-NBA honors when the season is done and rosters are announced.

Randle has helped to lead the Knicks from 21 wins to 41, a complete-180 for both parties.

Grant and the Pistons finished the season with a greater shot at the first overall pick than playoffs, and Porter Jr. spent almost the entire year as the third-best player on a title-contending team.

When it came to who improved most, while simultaneously improving their team, Randle was the easy answer.

Well, for 98 out of 100 voters, that is.

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