Julius Randle and the New York Knicks were widely written off to start the season. There were very few people who expected the Knicks to make a push for the playoffs let alone come away with home-court advantage in the first round.
Maybe even fewer expected the jump Randle made this season and on Tuesday night, he was officially awarded for it when he was named the NBA’s 2020-21 Most Improved Player.
Randle averaged career highs in points (24.1), rebounds (10.2), assists (6.0), three-point percentage (41.1%) and free-throw percentage (81.1%).
The more impressive part about his jump in three-point percentage was the volume at which he shot them. In his first six seasons in the league, Randle made 168 3-pointers while shooting 29.5 percent from deep. This season with New York, he made 160 3-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game.
Randle is the first Knick to win the Most Improved Player award since the inception of the award in 1985 and joined Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver’s Nikola Jokic as the only players this season to lead their teams in points, rebounds and assists per game.
Under Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, Randle played in a league-high 2,667 minutes (37.6 per game) while playing in 71 of a possible 72 games.
He became the second player in NBA history to average 20 points, 10 rebounds and give assists per game while also shooting 40 percent from deep, joining Larry Bird who accomplished that in 1984-85.