ESPN.com: New York Knicks’ Julius Randle wins NBA’s Most Improved Player Award

From ESPN.com:

Few expected the New York 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 Julius Randle made this season

On Tuesday night, Randle was officially awarded for it when he was named the NBA’s 2020-21 Most Improved Player.

“I just wanna say thank you to everybody involved,” Randle told reporters on a videoconference 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.”

Randle’s son, Kyden, surprised his dad with the award after the Knicks’ practice on Tuesday. Randle received 98 first-place votes out of a possible 100. Detroit’s Jerami Grant, who finished second, received the other two. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. finished third.

Congrats to Randle! It was well-deserved.

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70 thoughts to “ESPN.com: New York Knicks’ Julius Randle wins NBA’s Most Improved Player Award”

  1. Luka probably has a LeBron 2007 run in him soon, rest of the team be damned. There is truly no answer for him.

    Porzingis on the other hand is just embarrassing at this point.

  2. Kind of funny how Cam Payne was basically out of the league and now he’s a major contributor to one of the best teams in the NBA.

  3. Adorable bit where AD went to go to give Schroeder a high five for a nice pass but Schroeder didn’t see him, so he left him hanging, so Gasol just came over to give him the five.

  4. Gasol, on the next play, passed on a three and instead passed the ball with one second left on the shot clock and, of course, Caruso couldn’t get the shot off before the shot clock expired. What an odd mistake for a veteran like Gasol.

  5. yeah, no clips/mavs…blackout…spectrum with an extraordinary game block…

    I am surprised a little to see the clips maybe lose two at home, geez, I hope this don’t happen to us…

    we’re pretty solid at home normally…I don’t want this to be julius’ learning about the playoffs year…

  6. always good to see stevie balmer with that sour puss…”i can’t believe we choke in the playoffs again look…”…although the mask is hiding some of the expression…

  7. I never thought Lue was that good, but the again I never was convinced the Clippers were that good.

  8. I would fantasize about Kawhi coming here if he’s so disgusted with the Clips being chokers, but rumblings are that Miami would be his destination in that case.

  9. Does Miami have max cap space? They’d have to sign and trade for him, I’m pretty sure, or give up Duncan Robinson.

    I was never so sure why the Clippers were projected to be so good. Kawhi is awesome of course, and PG is a good #2, but who else do they really have on their team? Marcus Morris is fine but not amazing. Who else is there? They used to have that deadly Lou Will / Montrezl combo off the bench, but they’re both gone now. Their #3 scorer is Reggie Jackson for Pete’s sake.

    Anyway, in regards to tonight’s game, I am really just hoping we get a starting lineup change. My most current thought is that maybe Quickley is the guy that should start. He can stay in front of Trae certainly as well as Payton or Rose do, and maybe he can out-Trae Trae by picking up a few cheap fouls. Still think the Randle/Quickley reverse PNR has tons of potential, especially against Trae – you probably either get Trae switched onto Randle or a PNP open shot for Quickley assuming McMillan doesn’t feel like getting Trae bulldozed a half-dozen times.

  10. d-mar:
    So tomorrow night are the fans gonna chant:

    “MIP! MIP!”

    LOL.
    It’s still in the morning, but I think you’ve got Post of the Day locked up!

  11. Looks like we got pretty good value for Senior…

    I can take my large bite out of the humble pie for that now, especially with that Detroit 2nd being such an incredible asset.

  12. So the Clippers have a lot of mercs signed long term, and the Knicks have a lot of hard workers on 1-year deals. Who would have thought? :)

  13. In HoopsRumors.com:
    The 2021 Cavaliers offseason could include front office changes, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Current GM Koby Altman has been leading the front office since the 2017 offseason.
    (…) there is a chance that Gilbert’s impatience compels him to make a change and let Altman go (…)
    Fedor also mentions that Knicks executive Brock Aller, who kicked off his NBA career as Gilbert’s personal assistant before moving up the ranks in the Cavaliers’ front office, could be a potential replacement for Altman. Fedor adds, however, that Aller recently sold his Ohio home, an indication that the exec expects to remain with the Knicks for the immediate future.

  14. thenoblefacehumper: Porzingis on the other hand is just embarrassing at this point.

    Did he play poorly? His line seems good – FG 8-12 (66%), 3P 3-4 (75%), 4 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK, for 20 points in 32 mins. So few rebounds is not good, and he only went to the line 2 times, besides that looks like a good game for his standards.

  15. With a gun to my head, I probably would package both picks for him.

    I think packaging our picks to move up in this draft is very far from optimal value. I think we need to maintain a stash of picks to trade more than we need to move up in this draft.

    I would take the best players available at 19, and then shop the 21st pick for a future 1st and a future 2nd.

    I’d like to shop the 32nd pick, as well, but that one is tricky because it’s the best 2nd round pick possible. A pick like that should be worth a future 1st, but as we saw last year with the 33rd pick, it’s hard to get equal value.

  16. I want to remind everyone that in addition to three swaps, the Clippers have no protections on 2022, 2024 and 2026 firsts going to OKC. If Kawhi abandons ship, there’s a good chance that the Clippers are sold for a ham sandwich and a handshake. I cannot think of a franchise in worse shape, which is a real thing to say about a team that load-managed its way to a 53-win pace and tied for 3rd-best record in a stacked conference.

  17. I have a friend from San Diego who now lives in LA and has rooted for the Clips, Chargers, and Padres for what he estimates is 90 combined seasons, without seeing any of them win a title. He is in a very dark place this morning.

  18. Word, Jowles.

    The only thing they have going for them is that Kawhi seems to have established his home base in LA and may care more about lifestyle than winning at this point. But it’s gotta hurt his ego that he’s such a small banana in his hometown compared to LeBron and AD.

  19. I pretty much root against Dallas regardless of who they’re playing (even though these playoff games don’t affect our draft pick) but rooting for the Clippers is pretty hard when it looks like the players themselves (and the coach) don’t give a shit.

  20. What happened to the Clipper’s defense? lol

    They are supposed have 2 of the best wing defenders in the league in George and Leonard and one of the best defensive guards in the league in Beverley. Beverley was comical. He was abused by Doncic. It was like watching Frank against Trae on a looper. lmao. It must be tough for even great defensive players to guard great offensive players. It’s also time to take Kawhi off KP as often and put him Doncic more often (not that he even did a good job on KP last night).

    I have to think if Dallas wins that series that team might be blown up.

  21. It’s also time to take Kawhi off KP as often and put him Doncic more often (not that he even did a good job on KP last night).

    Sometimes you have to give your best player a rest on defense.

  22. Nice way to give him the award, and if you check the video, it’s visible that the team has a strong bond.

    Yeah, I couldn’t quite make out who was saying, “You improved! You improved a lot!” at the end (was it Obi?), but I laughed heartily at that, and smiled at seeing both Julius’ affection for his son and the team’s affection for him.

  23. I would take the best players available at 19, and then shop the 21st pick for a future 1st and a future 2nd.

    i agree with not trading up…. i don’t think it’s worth it in this draft unless you’re going after Suggs…. but we should absolutely use all our picks this year….

    frank, payton, burks, bullock, noel, taj, rose don’t have contracts for next year…

    knox and mitch are up the year after….

    frank, payton and knox are absolutely not going to be brought back…. and it’s very likely AT LEAST two of the expiring gang is not coming back either… these picks are going to be valuable to replenish valuable roster spots cheaply…. and we can do it very easily… this draft is rife with solid players….

    we have the gleague if we’re ‘too good’ to be playing rookies at all.. which i think is ridiculous anyway… we’re def not too good for draft picks…. but there’s absolutely no reason to be punting on these picks… both rj and randle are young enough to be the core for the knick team for a long while and so these picks absolutely matter to round out the roster around them or fetch a bigger fish down the line…. it’s actually pretty key to how this decade will look….

  24. Question for y’all: how do these NBA Matchup stats work?

    It says Kawhi matched up with Porzingis for 9 minutes:

    https://www.nba.com/stats/player/202695/head-to-head/?Season=2020-21&SeasonType=Playoffs

    And Porzingis matched up with Kawhi for 86 seconds:

    https://www.nba.com/stats/player/204001/head-to-head/

    Do the minutes tracked log who the player is guarding or who the player is guarded by? The methodology merely stated that: “Matchup possessions are derived using NBA Advanced Stats Player Tracking analysis”.

  25. cybersoze: Did he play poorly? His line seems good – FG 8-12 (66%), 3P 3-4 (75%), 4 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK, for 20 points in 32 mins. So few rebounds is not good, and he only went to the line 2 times, besides that looks like a good game for his standards.

    He was getting beat at times in smaller ball lineups. That’s always going to be an issue unless they feed him the ball in the post and take advantage of his size enough that the opposition drops small ball. Carlisle doesn’t like post play. He still wants everything designed to maximize Doncic.

    Everyone shot so well last night, there weren’t as many rebounds to be had. lol

    He was guarding Zubac a lot last night, but he’s spending more time guarding players on the perimeter so far in this series. So that’s also fewer rebounds. I don’t think Dallas cares much about “who” gets the defensive rebound as long as they aren’t getting killed on the boards. Their preference is for Doncic to get the rebounds so the ball is in his hands immediately. Dallas is not measuring productivity by boxscore metrics. They are measuring it by what’s working best at the team level and everything is designed for Doncic.

  26. we’re def not too good for draft picks

    I agree. But three draft picks? That’s a lot to add when we’re likely going to have Rose, Barrett, Bullock, Randle, Mitch, IQ, Vildoza, Obi, Taj, and possibly Burks. That’s ten right there.

    but there’s absolutely no reason to be punting on these picks

    The reason is we still want to acquire a star in his prime, and unused draft picks tend to have the highest trade value.

    I’d like to come out of this draft with two selections and a future first more than I’d like to come out of it with three selections. And I like both those options more than trading up.

  27. The Clippers have this strange thing where PG and Kawhi both really are excellent defenders but they’re kind of afraid to use them because they’re so reliant on those guys to drive the offense. So they end up giving so much of the Doncic matchup to Beverley (giving up ~6 inches) or Morris (just an okay defender). It just seems to me like something has to be wrong if you have Kawhi on your team and you’re not using him against the opposing team’s 6’7″ guy who they’re running everything through.

    But also I think to some extent it’s missing the forest for the trees to focus too much on the tactical Xs and Os. The Clips just haven’t been playing hard enough on defense – their ability to ramp up their intensity when they need to wasn’t there last season and doesn’t seem to be better this year. They played D last night like it was a random midseason game, not a season on the line type of game. Also the Mavs are absolutely shooting the lights out.

  28. And the Clippers city uniforms, which they insist on always wearing, suck tailpipe.

    Knicks sporting the subway token blacks tonight against the Hawks white.

  29. I also hate Dallas, but Lue is being totally outmatched by Carlisle. That said, Hardaway really stepped up. I’m happy for him as he always seemed like a decent guy who was given way too big a role here.

    I would be up for packaging the two picks to move up for Giddey if they really thought he was a special player. His passing acumen sure would be a nice addition. Sharife Cooper also looks like a special passer, but his size and poor defense make him a tough pick.

    I wonder if they will keep Knox around… has he shown Thibs enough? He’s expensive but expiring and who would trade for him? I suppose he could use a change of scenery and maybe we could get a future 2nd for him? As for Frank, they might just resign him to a 1 mil deal because who is the competition for him?

    It’s going to be hard to resign Rose, Burks, Bullock, and Noel. Rose will probably want close to 10 mil per, depending on contract structure. I think you have to let Noel walk with Mitch on board. Both Burks and Bullock will want a payday, so you might have to choose one or the other, which probably means no Burks. I guess it depends on if they sign a starting point guard or not.

  30. i think it’s very optimistic to think that rose.. bullock… taj AND burks will be back… i think rose and taj are realistic… i highly doubt both bullock and burks will be back and we might lose both depending on who goes crazy for bullock…. burks i think is as good as gone… taj was signed as a third big not as a backup big… and at 36 it would be a pretty big gamble to depend on him for 2000+ minutes with mitch coming off a jones fracture… which has a high recurrence rate to factor in…

    if you don’t play the picks you always have the gleague…. but more than likely two of the picks will probably need to play…. probably one guard(pg or sg) and a big to compete with pelle for third/backup C minutes….

    we’re not the lakers… we’re not so deep and capped out where we just say no thanks to essentially mid first rd picks…. and we’re not penny pinching going up against the tax either….. we have more than enough roster spots.. we’re a young team that’s under the cap that’s looking for another rotation worthy player…. if you don’t use these picks now… when do you use them?

    we’re still in talent accumulation on the win curve… we still have plenty of picks to trade if we need to and actual players to balance things out salary wise…. i didn’t like punting on the 2nd rd’er this year either and we probably could’ve used Xavier Tillman or Paul Reed… it seems like a huge waste to me then and now….

  31. Hubert: . But it’s gotta hurt his ego that he’s such a small banana in his hometown compared to LeBron and AD.

    IIRC the Lakers offered him a full max but he chose the Clippers. He’d be all but guaranteed 3 titles (barring injury) but probably have to fight for a FMVP every year. Hope Uncle Dennis is happy with another early exit. Me, personally — I’d take the rings and look forward to having my jersey retired next to those up in the rafters. But Uncle Dennis works in mysterious ways.

  32. And you know who has the close relationship with Uncle Dennis? That’s right — Steve Mills.

  33. They are supposed have 2 of the best wing defenders in the league in George and Leonard and one of the best defensive guards in the league in Beverley. Beverley was comical. He was abused by Doncic. It was like watching Frank against Trae on a looper. lmao. It must be tough for even great defensive players to guard great offensive players. It’s also time to take Kawhi off KP as often and put him Doncic more often (not that he even did a good job on KP last night).

    Think about how cocky Beverley is as a player about his defense and think about how much it must drive him insane to have Doncic constantly actively seek out coverage by Beverley. It’s kind of glorious.

  34. Yeah I do not want us trading picks away in this draft. 19 and 21 you can find some good players with those picks.

    I wouldn’t mind using the 2nd rounder with one of the first to move up one of the picks. Maybe with 21 and try to get in the 15 range and 19.

    I would basically use these picks to replace Knox and Frank and hope they turn out to be better players.

  35. Alan:
    I have a friend from San Diego who now lives in LA and has rooted for the Clips, Chargers, and Padres for what he estimates is 90 combined seasons, without seeing any of them win a title. He is in a very dark place this morning.

    The Los Angeles area is big enough for the Clips to cobble or pinch enough fan and market share to financially survive. But really, they’d be better off with their own market/city.
    Actually, LA is weird in that it’s big enough to be a two-team market for many pro sports but the fandom is really one-sided when it comes to baseball and basketball (Dodgers/Lakers). Football is 3rd place: most Rams fans I see are my age and up i.e. they were fans as kids and were ecstatic when they came back from St. Louis. I’ve yet to meet a Chargers fan. And there’s still a strong Raiders fan base here… right JK47? ;)

  36. Even as leader of the Frank hive, I’d trade him in for Jaden Springer any day of the week- Tankathon has him lasting until #22 after both our picks.

    If we came out of #19 and #21 with Isaiah Jackson and Jaden Springer I’d be pretty damn happy. And then the obligatory BJ Boston pick at #32. Trey Murphy would be a good Knox replacement.

    But it seems unlikely we would bring 3 rookies into camp onto what is presumably a team with much higher expectations…

  37. To be clear, I’ve said before I hope we use our first 3 picks for all of the reasons already mentioned. We have a ton of dead weight on the roster, uncertain situations with FAs, I like the depth in this draft, etc.

    My point is specific to Giddey, because I’m high enough on him (for now, reserve the right to change my mind until the first pick is in :) to say he’ll be a clear cut above everyone else available to us at 19/21 such that he alone provides more future value than two even above-average picks in that range.

    I mean everyone has some point at which they’d package the picks to move up. Everyone here would definitely do it to get into the top 5, and most would probably do it to get into the top 10. The only difference for me is as of now I would extend that range to “wherever Josh Giddey is drafted.”

  38. it’s really only the notion that we’re so good that we don’t have a place for 3 rookies… that’s a bit offkey… we have picks and we should use them to draft players and see what we get .. norvelle pelle.. kevin knox and luca villdoza are not exactly duncan, manu and parker… we need players better than them.. and we have picks to potentially find out… how lucky are we! if they’re not.. we have the gleague to put them on mothballs…

    trading up or trading the picks for a vet.. that’s ok too (pending the return of course)… but punting on it entirely? that is just maddening….

  39. I still think it was a mistake to punt on the second rounder in last year’s draft. The idea that this team couldn’t use having, say, Daniel Oturu, Théo Maledon, Xavier Tillman, Tyler Bey, Saben Lee or Tre Jones on the roster doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

  40. Yeah, that’s nonsense. We received literally nothing from 5 roster spots this season (Frank, Knox, Pelle, Pinson, and Harper).

    Take back the Theo Pinson slander! The man is not on the roster to play. He’s on the roster to work his clubhouse chemistry magic! And by all accounts has!

  41. Noel tends to speak methodically, often pausing mid-sentence to ponder what words to use next, sometimes repeating questions back as he ponders his answer. His voice is low and soft, and he’s got a big white smile. It’s easy to see why teammates and coaches, both past and present, absolutely love him.

    it’s interesting to wonder just how much team chemistry really matters…i guess a lot depends on how much talent you have on the roster…

  42. Geo, I think chemistry matters a lot more in basketball than in a more individualized sport like baseball. Obviously, talent matters more, and if our talent level was as bad as it’s been in some other years of this decade, all the chemistry in the world wouldn’t help. But we have Julius, plus a bunch of guys who would be rotation players on most teams in the league, so when they trust each other on the court, make the extra path, give maximum effort in the defensive rotations, etc., then that is a difference maker that allows us to play above our talent level. Whereas the Clippers roster is better than ours overall, but you get the sense that most of those guys don’t like or trust each other or Ty Lue.

  43. Yeah but Thibs is pretty old school, ideally not wanting to play rookies very much. Plus, the FO likely has its eyes on low-rung free agents just like last year. They will keep the core players, but it’s likely they’ll replace the others with guys who are willing to take 1-year deals. So if Burks leaves with a big deal, maybe they get a guy like Cam Payne on a 1+1 instead. And with Quickley and Toppin likely taking on bigger roles, there will only be so many available rookie minutes.

    Yes, they could use their 2nd rounder as a two-way guy or Gleaguer, but they seem to prefer scouring the undrafted circuit and getting optimal deals that way. Personally, I’m not going to act like I know better than Rose & Co. after this year!

  44. Steve Popper @StevePopper:
    Btw, no word yet on Noel status or starting lineup – although at yesterday’s video of Randle getting his MIP trophy looked like Noel and Payton were in blue, which is usually the starters. Unless the entire thing is a clever ruse by Thibodeau and Randle’s son was in on it.
    https://twitter.com/StevePopper/status/1397608258068701184

    and Randle’s son was in on it” LOL

  45. geo: it’s interesting to wonder just how much team chemistry really matters…i guess a lot depends on how much talent you have on the roster…

    I think the locker room guys do matter – if only because our team is now run by Leon Rose and William Wesley, both of whose careers have been based on understanding how to make players happy and perform at their highest level. I don’t think they’d waste roster spots on Theo Pinson and the like if they didn’t think what they brought was important.

    When do we hear about starting lineups? I am still holding out hope for some change at PG.

  46. We should use the draft picks and roster all three of them. The back of our roster is useless and this appears to be a deep draft, and finding useful players on rookie contracts is generally a good thing to do. We found a gem late in the first round last year, let’s try that again!

  47. Ugh: from Steve Popper:

    Btw, no word yet on Noel status or starting lineup – although at yesterday’s video of Randle getting his MIP trophy looked like Noel and Payton were in blue, which is usually the starters. Unless the entire thing is a clever ruse by Thibodeau and Randle’s son was in on it.

  48. Giddy looks interesting. Is it just me, or does he use two hand passes more than everyone else we’ve seen recently?

    His highlights are exciting, and so are the 7+ rebounds and 7+ assists in 32.1 mpg for a PG. 10.9 points on 9.5 shots with 3.3 TOs is a lot less promising.

  49. Yeah I am generally of the mind that we should use our picks but I wouldn’t be opposed to packaging 2 of them to move up some. So make 2 first round picks with one being higher than 19. But I think we should absolutely be looking to add young talent to this team that is cost controlled. As much as Frank and Knox are a lost cause at this point, it makes me sad to think where they might be right now if we’d had Thibs and the rest of this coaching staff in place along with these vets helping them develop from day one of their rookie seasons.

  50. thenoblefacehumper: Good piece on Nerlens. I’d love to have him back at just about any one-year deal.

    Funny, watching that slo-mo video of the block I swear I counted four fingers and a thumb, all of normal proportions, being unfurled right before the block. Unexpected.

    However, his statement of “starter” as one of the things he’s been lusting after makes me really wonder about the Noel/Mitch two-headed monster that *I* lust after for next year.

  51. Owen:
    Mitch upgraded to game time decision

    Awesome. I have to think this is to mess with the Hawks a bit, and he is more likely to play Game 3 or 4, if at all.

    Interesting that Vildoza is listed as a game time decision too.

  52. Yeah but Thibs is pretty old school, ideally not wanting to play rookies very much. Plus, the FO likely has its eyes on low-rung free agents just like last year. They will keep the core players, but it’s likely they’ll replace the others with guys who are willing to take 1-year deals.

    and this is why thibs is the coach and not the gm…. he will play the players we give him.. he is forced to… he’s under no obligation to play anyone undeserving… we pick and sign the players with some input from him and he plays who he feels is the best… he played two rookies pretty significant rotation minutes… and he relied on a 20 yo as a second option on offense and started the third year player in favor of either of the vets at center…. and he gave both knox and frank more of an opportunity than anybody thought that they deserved….

    if we pick good players they will get that same opportunity and if they can wack it they will play…. i’m sure thibs prefers another arrangement but we’re running out of ex-bulls on the market to fill out the roster so he’s going to have to trust the process…

  53. Owen:
    Mitch upgraded to game time decision

    Other people on Twitter are saying Mitch is listed as out on the official report for tonight, so we’ll see. But this raises a question for whenever Mitch is back in these playoffs: does he take Taj’s spot in the rotation, or Obi’s? Thibs isn’t playing 11 guys. Thibs understandably trusts Taj more on defense, but we saw in Game 1 that Obi’s a useful weapon to have around while Randle is taking a breather.

  54. djphan: he will play the players we give him..

    we pick and sign the players with some input from him and he plays who he feels is the best…

    So you work for the front office?

  55. we’re not the lakers… we’re not so deep and capped out where we just say no thanks to essentially mid first rd picks…. and we’re not penny pinching going up against the tax either….. we have more than enough roster spots.. we’re a young team that’s under the cap that’s looking for another rotation worthy player…. if you don’t use these picks now… when do you use them?

    I don’t see trading one pick today for two picks tomorrow as saying no thanks to a pick. Trading down or trading out is a great way to multiply your assets.

    Two players and two future picks strikes me as a great outcome for this draft. But I think most of our free agents will be back, whereas you seem to think they’ll scatter.

    Also, I think we eventually need to swing a big trade. If Damian Lillard hits the market next year, for instance, an unused first round pick is exponentially more valuable than a player toiling in the G League.

  56. As much as Frank and Knox are a lost cause at this point, it makes me sad to think where they might be right now if we’d had Thibs and the rest of this coaching staff in place along with these vets helping them develop from day one of their rookie seasons.

    this is for you Frankenstan (i hope you had a chance to see Z’s comment yesterday – it was hilarious) – yeah, i do hope frank stays for at least another year…hard to tell if thibs would really even want him back…

    i know frank will get other offers (both in the nba and abroad), hopefully though we get to see him turn in to a useful rotation piece…when i thought of frank being used as a defensive specialist, i was kinda thinking in terms of minutes played, not seconds played…

    my dream of watching frank have a positive impact in the playoffs for the knicks is still pending…

  57. Yeah, saw that it might not be true. I want Mitch back. I need Mitch back. I am not verifying anything on Twitter that says he is coming back.

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