Julius Randle just had one of the best seasons in Knicks history

It is barely while you take a deep dive into the Knicks’ previous – and never solely the current previous of 20 years or so – while you understand just how exceptional Julius Randle’s 2020-21 season actually was. Sift via most of the NBA’s constitution groups, take a look at some of the names and a few of the years.

How do you decide the best Celtics yr? You throw at the least a half-dozen every of Bob Cousy’s and Bill Russell’s and John Havlicek’s and Larry Bird’s best hits on the desk. You add in a number of from Dave Cowens and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. You can take all day and half the night time just slicing it to a Top 10.

The Sixers? Wilt Chamberlain. Moses Malone. Julius Erving. Billy Cunningham. Charles Barkley. Keep going. The Lakers? Goodness. Wilt and Kareem, Magic Johnson and Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Heck, for those who embody the Nets’ ABA years it’s even more durable to find out theirs: return to Rick Barry and the Doctor, add Jason Kidd and Vince Carter and Micheal Ray Richardson, and that’s earlier than you get to their current iteration, dominated by the Big Three.

The Knicks have one MVP trophy in their case: Willis Reed, 1969-70.

They have had 11 seasons the place a participant completed in the prime 5 of the MVP vote since that award was established in 1956 – and 6 of these belonged to Patrick Ewing in the seven years from 1989-95. Think about that. It actually is stunning to see the dearth of candidates. If you need to evaluate Randle’s yr this yr with the best in workforce history.

Julius Randle has had a Knicks season for the ages
Julius Randle has had a Knicks season for the ages
NBAE by way of Getty Images

“What he’s done,” Tom Thibodeau mentioned not way back, “is reinforce the value of hard work and commitment. From day one all I’ve seen from him is a hunger to maximize his talent and his production and his efficiency, and he’s done it. He’s been everything for us this year: scorer, rebounder, facilitator, leader. It’s hard to do more than he’s done.”

He is a shoo-in to win the league’s Most Improved Player Award. He must be deeper in the dialog in terms of the MVP Award, too, but it surely appears unlikely he’s going to place a lot of a scare into the two favorites, Denver’s Nikola Jokic or Philly’s Joel Embiid, when the votes are tallied. He might even be bypassed by Phoenix’s Chris Paul and the Warriors’ Steph Curry. He ought to squeak into the prime 5. Maybe.

But Knicks followers know higher.

Knicks followers have seen Randle play 71 out of 72 video games this yr. In a league that has made “load-management” half of the unlucky nationwide lexicon – and for a workforce that so desperately wanted his presence each night time – that alone could be a formidable place to begin. And you then transfer on to the Other Stuff:

  • 24.1 factors per sport, a profession excessive by almost 3 PPG.
  • 10.2 rebounds per sport, matching his profession excessive.
  • 6.0 assists per sport, almost doubling his earlier excessive.
  • a capturing line of .456/.411/.811; the latter two are profession highs and it’s not shut.
  • 6 triple-doubles this yr, half his profession whole, two behind Walt Frazier’s membership report.

And maybe most exceptional: A Knicks workforce that by consensus was picked close to the backside of the East, with projected win totals anyplace from 20 and 24, gained 41 video games. If doable, he may need put collectively one of the most underrated nice seasons in NBA history.

And, with out query, one of the nice Knicks seasons ever.

Which different ones belong in the dialog? Just a handful. In Ewing’s prime you possibly can pick any quantity of candidates. Same with Clyde and Reed. Bob McAdoo, a lot as his tenure right here is mocked, completed tied for 10thin the 1978 MVP vote by placing collectively one of the forgotten nice seasons in workforce history (26.5/12.8, .520/.727), and Richie Guerin had a monster yr in 1962 for a dreadful 29-51 workforce (29.5 PPG/6.4 RPG/6.9 APG, .442/.820).

But the prime 5, in chronological order, look one thing like this:

(the place they completed in MVP voting)

Willis Reed, 1969-70 (first)

21.7 factors, 13.0 rebounds, .507 FG%, .756 FT%

Willis Reed
Willis Reed
Getty Images

Reed truly had a number of seasons that challenged this one but it surely’s arduous to place any of them above the magical run he helped engineer in ’69-’70 when he additionally added the All-Star Game MVP and the NBA Finals MVP to his shelf. He was the captain of the most beloved workforce the Knicks have ever assembled and this was his signature yr.

Clyde Frazier, 1969-70 (fourth)

20.9 factors, 6.0 rebounds, 8.2 assists, .518 FG%, .748 FT%

As was typical in that wonderful yr Clyde was sensible – and in addition, all the time, second fiddle to Reed. Much as Reed’s two baskets on a ruined hip in Game 7 of the Finals all the time overshadows Frazier’s epic, for-the-books 36-point, 19-assist, seven-rebounds tour de drive, so was the relaxation of the season. But neither Clyde nor the Captain would have that ’70 ring with out the different.

Bernard King, 1983-84 (second)

26.3 factors, .572 FG%, .779 FT%

King gained a scoring title the subsequent yr (32.9) earlier than blowing out his knee, but it surely was 1984 when he solidified his legend and turned in a season for the ages, capped by a playoff run in which he averaged 42.6 factors (capturing .604!) in 5 traditional video games towards Detroit and 29.1 factors (.545) in seven epic video games towards the eventual-champ Celtics and Bird, who handily defeated King 652-373 in the MVP vote. That yr alone will one day warrant a spot for his No. 30 jersey in the Garden rafters – although he’ll most likely need to share it with Randle now, a lot as Earl Monroe and Dick McGuire share 15.

Patrick Ewing, 1992-93 (fourth)

24.2 factors, 12.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks,.503 FG%, .719 FT%

Remarkably, Ewing obtained a TOTAL of 16 first-place MVP votes in his profession (with a excessive of 8 in 1988-89, the different of his nominations for this listing), however this was the yr when Pat Riley’s imaginative and prescient and Ewing’s expertise actually related. The Knicks gained 60 video games and can endlessly surprise what may need been in the event that they’d survived the Bulls. And Ewing was sensible night time after night time.

Carmelo Anthony, 2012-’13 (third)

28.7 factors, 6.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, .449 FG/.379 3PFG, .830 FT

Knicks followers routinely skip over this season in recounting twenty years of distress. It is unlucky each for that workforce, which gained 54 video games and a playoff collection, and for Melo, who truly had a greater statistical yr the subsequent season however was by no means higher as a Knick. It was additionally the final time, earlier than this yr, when the “M!V!P!” chant was a daily characteristic of Garden house video games.

Where does Randle evaluate?

Anywhere on that listing will do wonderful. Though third, behind 1970 Reed and 1984 King, sounds about proper.

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