Knicks’ Julius Randle Wins Most Improved Player
Power forward Julius Randle of the New York Knicks capped off his best career season and the best season by any Knick since Carmelo Anthony, by winning the Most Improved Player award, as well as making a push for the playoffs. Few, if any, saw this massive improvement coming from the young forward.
On Tuesday night, he had this to say regarding his season: “I just wanna say thank you to everybody involved,” Randle told reporters on a video conference shortly after being named the winner. “I mean it truly was a team thing. Everybody in the Knicks organization, top to bottom, I can’t thank everybody enough. All my teammates, everybody, they trust me and empower me. I just wanna thank them for allowing me to lead them. And then my family, my wife, my son, everybody, like everybody, has played a part in helping me continue to become the best version of me on and off the court.”
As for the other nominees for the award, Detroit’s Jerami Grant finished second, and Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. finished third. Randle’s major improvement came in his scoring and passing. He posted a career-high 24.1 points per game. He also averaged 6.0 assists per game and upped both his three point percentage and free throw percentage to above average marks. His ability to break players down off the dribble improved, and his face up game was fantastic. Randle has cemented himself as a top 30 player in the league, essentially making himself a franchise player and the Knicks a free agent destination. Randle credits former head coach Alvin Gentry for the transformation in his game: “For me, that’s all I really needed to hear,” Randle said. “It was sort of like a confidence booster in a way, but it was also like, ‘Yo, this is the opportunity. This is what I signed up for. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting on to be able to expand my game. It really started there. Then, last year, I had a down year shooting the ball, so I was able to clean some things up heading into this year and just keep expanding and building on what I already knew I could do. A lot of things in this league is about opportunity and confidence and mindset. Those things kind of came in all at once in New Orleans. I was able to build on that.”
Randle also spoke on being the first Knick to win the award: “Pretty cool, pretty cool,” Randle said of being the first Knick to earn the honor. “Especially for an organization, franchise, that has so much history and tradition. To be able to be the first of anything is obviously pretty cool. For me, it’s a milestone. But I just wanna keep going, keep improving, see how far I can push myself as an individual, see how far as a leader I can push this team. So, that’s pretty much all it is.”