Julius Randle has been voted the NBA’s most improved player after leading the New York Knicks to the playoffs in his career best season.
Randle was a runaway winner after earning his first All-Star berth in his seventh NBA campaign, receiving 98 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.
In his seventh season and on his third team, Randle set or tied career highs in almost every major statistical category during his first season with the Knicks.
He 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 per game.
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.
Beyond his stats, Randle was the clear leader of a Knicks team who weren’t expected to make the post-season this season – after languishing outisde the playoffs for seven years.
Instead, they went 41-31 and earned the No.4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Randle had a disappointing post-season debut in Game 1 against Atlanta, shooting 6 of 23 for 15 points in the Knicks’ 107-105 loss 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 per cent after never hitting more than 34.4 per cent.
He also had six triple-doubles, half of his career total.
The 26-year-old Randle spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and his next two with the New Orleans Pelicans.