Lamar Odom in Zach Randolph’s body did it again, y’all.
Julius Randle was incredible once more in the New York Knicks’ 118-109 overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets, getting 33 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds in the victory, bullying his way to his sixth triple-double of the season — all while wearing Kobe’s shoes. The 30-point triple-double was the Knicks’ first of its kind since 2012 when Carmelo Anthony did it playing for the last Knick team people cared about.
Randle won’t win Most Valuable Player, because there’s a formerly chubby white dude in Denver who has been busting everyone’s ass all season long who may (and probably should) win it unanimously. That said, five players are named per ballot, all of which will be sorted out shortly after the regular season ends. Randle showed one more time, while powering the Knicks back into fourth place in the Eastern Conference, that he’s not only the obvious choice for Most Improved Player, but that his name deserves to be a couple of spots behind Nikola Jokić as well.
The historical context is important for how we’ll reflect on the season. It may not seem like much, but the Knicks haven’t had such a phenomenon since Carmelo Anthony. (No, we already went over why the Kristaps Porzingis thing is different.) Plus, in a season where missed games are as frequent as seeing Kelly Clarkson make faces on The Voice, Randle’s been present, he’s been durable, he’s been impactful, and he’s been a revelation for a roster people thought would be lucky to obtain Play-In consideration.
It’s more than the points, rebounds, and assists averages of around 24-10-6, as well as the shooting splits of 46 / 41 / 82 while leading the NBA in minutes. It’s about being mentioned when this season is long gone and seeing Randle’s name (deservingly) among other elite-level All-Star peers like Joel Embiid, Chris Paul, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Dončić, Damian Lillard, Steph Curry, Jimmy Butler, and whoever else we’ll see on the ballots. Randle should also find himself on one of the three All-NBA rosters, along with a healthy contract extension.
Most Valuable is Most... Valuable... and Randle deserves to be mentioned as that when we look back on the 2020-21 season in the years to come.
But don’t get it twisted, and it should go without saying — it’s Jokić’s award.