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Knicks' Julius Randle Wins NBA's 2020-21 Most Improved Player Award

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2021

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) dribbles the ball against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, April 24,2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray,Pool)
Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle has been named the 2020-21 NBA Most Improved Player.

NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT

Julius Randle's son, Kyden, surprised him with his #KiaMIP award 👏 @nyknicks https://t.co/uk1rx9EOnR

The 26-year-old beat out fellow finalists Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr. for the award.

Chris Mannix @SIChrisMannix

It’s official: @J30_RANDLE wins NBA Most Improved. Full voting: https://t.co/LqltcvxrRK

Randle took his play to a new level this season, setting career highs with 24.1 points and 6.0 assists per game to go with his 10.2 rebounds per game. He was one of just seven qualified players to average 20 and 10 this season.

The seventh-year player turned himself into a more dangerous scorer while hitting 41.1 percent from three-point range, and he was often unstoppable in the mid-range. He also rounded out his game by improving as a passer while becoming the focal point of the Knicks offense.

His production helped him earn his first All-Star selection while leading New York to a 41-31 record and the franchise's first postseason appearance since 2013.

Randle entered the NBA with high expectations as the No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft. After some promising but inconsistent seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he spent one year with the New Orleans Pelicans before signing a three-year deal with the Knicks.

The big man played well in his first year in New York, finishing the 2019-20 season with averages of 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Few still expected him to be a long-term option, though, and he was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the season.

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However, his sustained production over the 2020-21 campaign showed he can be a key player on a playoff contender.

While other contenders had bigger jumps in their scoring average, including Grant and Christian Wood, Randle was the most improved overall player in the NBA this season.

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