Knicks’ Julius Randle Named 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Improved Player

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

A first-time NBA All-Star selection in his seventh season, Randle becomes the first player to win the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award with New York. The annual award, which was first presented in the 1985-86 season, is designed to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.

Randle received 98 first-place votes and earned 493 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant received the other two first-place votes and finished in second place with 140 points. Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. finished in third place with 138 points. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote,

In his second season with the Knicks, Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists in an NBA-high 37.6 minutes in 71 games. He set career highs for averages in points and assists and matched his career high in rebounds, ranking in the top 20 in the NBA in all three categories. The 6-9 Randle is the sixth player in NBA history to average at least 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in a season, joining Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Nikola Jokić (who also did it this season), Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.

Randle made a career-high 160 three-pointers in 2020-21, eight fewer than his total for the previous five seasons combined (168). He shot 40.1 percent from three-point range, well above his career mark of 29.5 percent entering the season. Randle also shot a career-high 81.1 percent from the free throw line.

Selected as a reserve for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, Randle tied for eighth in the league in double-doubles with 41 and tied for seventh in triple-doubles with six. Randle was named the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for April and the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Week 17.

Behind Randle, the Knicks (41-31) finish tied for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. New York made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Randle, 26, signed with the Knicks as a free agent on July 9, 2019. Before joining New York, he played his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and one season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Randle entered this season with career averages of 16.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

The voting results for the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award are below. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP. Complete ballots for each voter will be posted at after the announcement of all end-of-season awards.


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