Julius Randle wins NBA Most Improved Player after leading Knicks back to playoffs

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Julius Randle turned himself into the star the New York Knicks needed to make it back to the playoffs, and that has earned him some significant hardware.

The NBA named Randle the Most Improved Player of the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, and the league had someone special give him the trophy:

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Randle beat out finalists Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant for the honor. With 98 out of 100 first-place votes, Randle was the runaway winner.

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Randle earned his first career All-Star selection in his seventh NBA season this year, leading the Knicks to a 41-31 record, fourth-best in the Eastern Conference. It was the Knicks' first playoff berth since the 2012-13 season.

Here's how Randle's season stacks up with his numbers last season:

  • 2019-20: 32.5 minutes per game, 19.5 points per game, 46.0 percent field goal shooting, 27.7 percent 3-point shooting, 9.7 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game

  • 2020-21: 37.6 minutes per game, 24.1 points per game, 45.6 percent field goal shooting, 41.1 percent 3-point shooting, 10.2 rebounds per game, 6.0 assists per game

As the season went on, the Knicks increasingly ran their offense through Randle, who was supplemented by a breakout season from former third overall pick R.J. Barrett, a resurgent season from Derrick Rose, a strong rookie year from Immanuel Quickley and a host of other strong role players. As a team, the Knicks ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive rating in head coach Tom Thibodeau's first year in New York.

Even better for the Knicks, they've found a star who wants to stay.

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