How Strong is Julius Randle's Case for MVP?

The biggest thing that stands out for Randle's MVP case is the Knicks place in the Eastern Conference standings. Sitting at 4th in the East, only 4.5 games back of Milwaukee, New York has a chance to have home court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs and avoid the play-in tournament.


Without Julius Randle, this team is at least 10th in the East. He does EVERYTHING for them. Leading the league in minutes per game (thanks Coach Thibs), Randle is on the court all but 11 minutes per game. He is 19th in scoring at 23.9 points per game, 11th in rebounds at 10.4 per game, and 19th in assists at 6 per game.


The whole league has known he could score and rebound down low his whole career. Since he came to the NBA from Kentucky he was known as a bruiser. The reason he has made the jump to #1 option this season is his shooting. Every single shooting statistic has improved across the board (except FG% since he is shooting so many more jumpers now).


Randle is shooting 80.4% from the free throw line (up from 73% last year) and 41.8% on 3's (up from 27% last year!!!!). For a guy who's weakness has been shooting his entire career he sure added it to his game quickly this offseason.


The other major improvement he made was as a playmaker. Coach Thibs has put the ball in his hands more, but Randle has figured out how to take care of the ball with this newfound responsibility. His assists have gone up from 3.1 per game last year to 6 per game this year. Yet his turnovers have only increased by .5 per game.

If the analytics people want to enter the conversation, Randle is 15th in the league in Win Shares. But of the 14 people ahead of him the only person with more Defensive Win Shares is Rudy Gobert (an ex-defensive player of the year).

Nikola Jokic is still the odds on favorite to win the award at -380. The Jamal Murray injury only helped his cause. Randle is sitting around 9th in MVP odds (+12,000), depending on the sports book you look at. He might not win the award due to Jokic's crazy season, but he has certainly made a name for himself. If he continues this torrid pace and keeps climbing the rankings he could end up as a top 3 MVP candidate, an amazing accomplishment for a guy who just made his first All-Star game this year.

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