Julius Randle will probably see his name on a few MVP ballots at the end of the 2020-21 season, and he said Tuesday he's embracing the attention.
"For sure. I'm not gonna shy away from it. For me, it's about getting better from game to game, improving as a player. I'm not focused on [winning MVP]," Randle told reporters.
Randle will almost certainly not win the MVP, but he has found himself garnering attention after leading the Knicks to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Nikola Jokic is the overwhelming favorite to win the 2020-21 MVP and has been a borderline lock since LeBron James and Joel Embiid, his top competition, went down with long-term injuries.
Jokic's near-inevitability as MVP has created somewhat of a void in the conversation, with some floating names like Randle, Chris Paul and others as potential challengers. While it would be hard to quibble with Randle finding his way on a ballot, there is an important distinction between "having a great season" and being the MVP.
Randle certainly fits into the former category, averaging 24.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists while acting as the Knicks' offensive fulcrum. However, it's hard to say Randle fits in the conversation with Jokic, Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul, who are locks for nearly every ballot (voters list their top five candidates for the NBA MVP).
It's possible Randle could slide up as high as No. 5, but then you get into a conversation that also includes Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry, all of whom are more brilliant individual players.