Julius Randle, Jerami Grant, Michael Porter Jr. Finalists for NBA's 2021 MIP Award

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 20, 2021

SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 24:  Actor Justin Hartley and Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks present the KIA Most Improved Player Award during the 2019 NBA Awards Show on June 24, 2019 at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA announced its three finalists for this season's Most Improved Player award, singling out Julius Randle, Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr. for the honor. 


The three finalists for #KiaMIP... @JeramiGrant, Michael Porter Jr. and @J30_RANDLE! #NBAAwards pic.twitter.com/nKbOvjZHOT

Here's how the three finalists stack up compared to their 2019-20 averages:

Julius Randle, PF, New York Knicks

  • 2019-20: 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 64 games
  • 2020-21: 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 71 games

Jerami Grant, PF, Detroit Pistons

  • 2019-20: 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 71 games
  • 2020-21: 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 54 games

Michael Porter Jr., SF, Denver Nuggets

  • 2019-20: 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 55 games
  • 2020-21: 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 61 games

Given how the New York Knicks became this season's surprise contender, earning the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, Randle seems like a safe pick to capture the award. Porter Jr. has the fewest years in the league among the finalists, having played just two seasons in the league and giving voters a smaller sample size. Grant played for the team with the fewest wins among finalists, which could hurt his case while Porter benefited from playing alongside MVP finalist Nikola Jokic.

Both Grant, 26, and Randle, 26, are in their seventh season in the league.  

While the award doesn't necessarily mean the recipient is destined for greatness in the league, there are numerous examples of past winners achieving notable success during their careers. 

Jalen Rose (1999-00), Tracy McGrady (2000-01), Zach Randolph (2003-04), Kevin Love (2010-11), Paul George (2012-13), Jimmy Butler (2014-15), CJ McCollum (2015-16) and Pascal Siakam (2018-19) all transformed into elite players after winning MIP. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award after the 2016-17 season before blossoming into a back-to-back MVP winner over the last two seasons. 

Last year's Most Improved Player, Brandon Ingram, saw his numbers stay relatively consistent from 2019-20 to the 2020-21 campaign, showing sustained success after winning the award isn't limited to those who go onto become perennial All-Stars.