Julius Randle vs. New Orleans
Julius Randle dunks against the New Orleans Pelicans on March 22, 2018.
(Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Randle Finishes 5th in Most Improved Player Voting

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Julius Randle made sizable strides in his fourth NBA season, as recognized by the media members who voted him to a fifth-place finish for 2018 Most Improved Player.

Randle took nine second- and nine third-place votes to finish with a final tally of 36 points.

Only Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (499), Houston’s Clint Capela (99), Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie (50) and Detroit’s Andre Drummond (46) scored better.

A bulldozer out of pick-and-roll and in the post, Randle averaged 16.1 points per game — about three more than last season — finishing in a three-way tie with Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma for the team lead.

He got his buckets efficiently, shooting 55.8 percent from the field, which ranked 10th in the entire NBA and was a seven-percent leap from his mark the previous season.

The 23-year-old also ranked fourth in made layups (278 total), while averaging 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Randle — who played all 82 games for the first time in his career — saw his biggest improvement come on the other side of the ball.

Once considered a subpar defender, Randle used his unique combination of strength and speed to body larger opponents and keep in front of smaller ones.

His ability to play small-ball center was crucial to the Lakers’ switch-heavy defense, and a vital reason for their jump from the NBA’s worth defensive efficiency in 2016-17 to 12th-best this season.

Randle was joined on the Most Improved Player ballot by Brandon Ingram, who received one second- and one third-place vote toward four points.

Kyle Kuzma was the final Laker to receive votes for an end-of-season award, taking three third-place votes in the Rookie of the Year category.

First-place votes were worth five points, while second- and third- were worth three and one, respectively.

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