Julius Randle is leaving the competition in the dust in NBA Most Improved Player race
The New York Knicks are in the midst of a six-game winning streak and no player has been more integral to their success than power forward Julius Randle. The former Kentucky big man is in his seventh season and is playing the best basketball of his life.
After beginning his career with a devastating broken tibia in his debut for the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle has rebounded to become a bona fide All-Star and franchise player. It is a remarkable story for a guy who is already on his third team after two different franchises chose not to retain him.
Randle's red-hot play has made him the favorite to win NBA Most Improved Player honors. Back in early March, Randle had +700 odds to win the award, but his recent play now has him positioned as the overwhelming -500 favorite.
NBA Most Improved Player 2020/2021
Tue, June 1 2021, 10:00 AM
Porter Jr., Michael
Randle has become the toast of New York
As the Knicks continue to win, Randle has found himself being increasingly called on to make clutch time plays. He is averaging 23.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game for the year, and has become the focus of the team's offense.
In the Knicks’ recent overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans, Randle had 33 points and 10 assists. In a dramatic primetime victory over the Dallas Mavericks last Friday night, he had 44 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
Over the Knicks’ recent six game win streak, Randle is averaging 30.6 points, and the rest of the league has certainly taken notice. During the Saturday night primetime game between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, announcer Jeff Van Gundy interrupted a fantastically close game to talk about Randle as a fringe MVP candidate and the most improved player in the league.
Jeff Van Gundy is calling the Warriors-Celtics game on ABC and, previewing tomorrow’s Knicks-Pelicans game on national TV, says Julius Randle is “definitely the most improved player in the league,” adding Randle deserves MVP-ballot consideration— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) April 18, 2021
Randle has been lights-out from deep
When looking at the merits of the award itself, Randle has in fact done more than enough to win the title. After being named an All-Star at midseason, he has continued his superb play and is continuing to execute at a high level. He is shooting 41% from three this year, a steep rise from the 27% he shot just one year ago.
He is getting more rebounds than any season in his career, and nearly twice as many assists per game as well. He has also increased his free-throw percentage to 79%, a noticeable improvement from his career 73% mark.
Randle is head and shoulders above the competition
Randle’s toughest competition for the award is Jerami Grant of the Detroit Pistons, but one thing that separating the two players is the fact the Knicks are winning while the Pistons sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Grant is seeing more usage with the Pistons than he has in prior stops in Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, and Denver, but most of his added impact has come by way of points, while Randle is impacting the game in other areas as well.
After such impressive games during this Knicks winning streak, Randle has completely distanced himself from all challengers, and is the obvious pick to win NBA Most Improved Player honors.