Knicks' Julius Randle wins NBA's Most Improved Player award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle was voted the NBA's Most Improved Player on Tuesday after leading the New York Knicks to the playoffs during his best season.

Randle was a runaway winner after earning his first All-Star berth in his seventh NBA season, receiving 98 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Randle 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.

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 that had missed the playoffs the last seven years and wasn't expected to make them this season. Instead, they went 41-31 and earned the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

But Randle had a disappointing postseason debut in Game 1, shooting 6 of 23 for 15 points in the Knicks' 107-105 loss to Atlanta 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% after never hitting more than 34.4%. He also had six triple-doubles, half of his career total.

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Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press

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