Knicks’ Julius Randle wins NBA’s Most Improved Player award

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) celebrates with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
New York Knicks forward Julius Randle celebrates with coach Tom Thibodeau after a game against the Boston Celtics on May 16.
(Vincent Carchietta / Associated Press)

Julius Randle was voted the NBA’s Most Improved Player on Tuesday after leading the New York Knicks to the playoffs during his best season.

Randle was a runaway winner after earning his first All-Star berth in his seventh NBA season, receiving 98 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists, ranking in the NBA’s top 20 in all three categories, while playing an NBA-high 37.6 minutes.


Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic (who also did it this season) are the only other players to have a 24-10-6 season.

The Phoenix Suns issued a warning to the Lakers in Game 1: be ready or be left behind. The Lakers expect to improve in Game 2 on Tuesday.

May 25, 2021

Beyond his stats, Randle was the clear leader of a Knicks team that had missed the playoffs the last seven years and wasn’t expected to make them this season. Instead, they went 41-31 and earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

But Randle had a disappointing postseason debut in Game 1, shooting 6 of 23 for 15 points in the Knicks’ 107-105 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. That came after he had two of his three 40-point games during the season against the Hawks.

Randle earned 493 points in the voting to finish well ahead of Detroit’s Jerami Grant, who earned the other two first-place votes and had 140 points. Michael Porter Jr. of Denver was third with 138 points.

Randle’s biggest leap came from the 3-point arc, where he shot 41.1% after never hitting more than 34.4%. He also had six triple-doubles, half of his career total.