Most signs point to Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic taking the NBA MVP award this season. He is regarded as the favorite to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. You can just imagine the city of Denver descending into chaos if the Serbian doesn’t win it, especially if anyone not named Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid — regarded as the closest challenger to the Jokic — takes home the honor. But we have seen crazier things happen before in the NBA. Who’s to say that even someone like New York Knicks do-it-all forward Julius Randle doesn’t steal the MVP from Jokic?
At this point of the season, Julius Randle has a microscopic chance of winning the NBA MVP. He doesn’t even have half the win shares of Jokic. Before the general public thinks of him as a frontrunner, he’ll have to prove he’s clearly better than the following names I am about to rattle out: the aforementioned Embiid, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, and even Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
All that being said, Julius Randle is technically still in the race, right? Sure, his name doesn’t even show up anymore in most sportsbooks’ odds to win the 2020-21 NBA MVP, but expect him to be back there should the Knicks go on a ridiculous run. By that, I mean the Knicks going nearly undefeated for the rest of the season. The Knickerbockers are currently on an eight-game undefeated streak. They are on pace to locking up a slot in the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
If they were to win out or go .800 or better until the end of the regular season, it’s not because they took advantage of a weak schedule. In fact, the Knicks have the sixth-hardest schedule from this point forward in the NBA, with games against the likes of the Phoenix Suns (twice), Los Angeles Clippers, the Boston Celtics, and — you guessed it — the Denver Nuggets.
Over that eight-game win streak, Julius Randle averaged 30.0 points with a 42.1% shooting from behind the arc, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists, while also recording a 107.9 defensive rating. Sustaining those kinds of numbers until the conclusion of the regular season is at the mercy of the Gods of regression, but if there’s one way for Randle to leapfrog the contenders and snatch the MVP award away from Jokic, he’s going to have to transform into a statistical demon while making sure the Knicks don’t lose games.
It’s unlikely, but don’t count Julius Randle out just yet.