By Renzo Salao

This season’s MVP conversation has been dominated by big men. The odds-on favorite to win the award is Denver Nuggets maestro Nikola Jokic. For a long stretch of the season, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was the king of the hill, too.

But 12-year NBA veteran Taj Gibson wants everyone to add another frontcourt talent onto the MVP shortlist - New York Knicks All-Star and franchise savior Julius Randle. The former Chicago Bulls big man went to bat for his current teammate and why he belongs in the discussion, as reported by The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov.

"You look at the body of work that Julius put together on a night-to-night basis... People don't understand how tough it is to play in New York and bring the winning mentality back to the Knicks."

As ridiculous as it sounds on paper, the case isn’t as far-fetched as it would seem. Julius Randle is the heart and soul of a resurgent Knicks squad that’s likely to finish with the 4th seed in the East. He’s doing this virtually by himself, without a single teammate in New York you could make a sane All-Star argument for. 

Randle has also played 64 of the team’s 65 games. In a season that’s been plagued with widespread injuries and COVID-19 protocol woes, his durability has been a major boon for Tom Thibodeau’s side.

While Randle has next to no chance to overtake Jokic with just a few games left in the season, it’s clear that he’s been one of the biggest success stories of the season. He’s the beloved MVP for the New York Knicks, and for a fan base as tortured as theirs, they’re just happy to have him.


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