The New York Knicks have another budding star in Julius Randle despite their losing season. Here’s why he has finally been playing into the role and what it means for his future on the Knicks.
In 2018-19, Randle averaged a career-high 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.7 steals per game. Those numbers included shooting 52.4 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 73.1 percent from the free-throw line in 30.6 minutes a game.
This season, Randle’s scoring (19.3), field goal percentage (45.4), and three-point percentage (27.1) are not what they were when the Knicks signed him as a free agent last summer. His slight drop in scoring and field goal percentage is due to NYK underutilizing his skill set in the first half of the season. As well as the fact that Randle joined a fractured New York Knicks franchise.
Randle’s increased role
When the Knicks (surprising) leading scorer Marcus Morris (19.6 ppg) was dealt at the trade deadline to the LA Clippers, Randle took the opportunity to finally become their number one option. Up until the February 6th trade deadline, Randle was averaging eighteen points, which was barely behind Morris’ scoring average.
In the month of February (11 games), Randle notably averaged 20.5 points per game,10.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and shot 48.3 percent from the field. The Plano, Texas native was even a focal point of the Knicks first four-game winning streak back in early February. Their longest streak since December 2017.
One exciting aspect of Randle’s increased role is having Elfrid Payton as his point guard (again). As former teammates in New Orleans, both know exactly how to play with one another. Together, the pair can become one of the deadliest pick-and-roll combos in the NBA in the near future.
As a result of his increased involvement in the offense, Randle has upped his season numbers. He is now averaging 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 46 percent from the field, 73.3 percent from the free-throw line, and 27.7 percent from deep. The only stat that Randle has improved from his previous season is his rebounding, which will surely change as he continues to become more comfortable with his role on the Knicks.
If and when the NBA season resumes, Randle has the ability to lead this young New York Knicks team within striking distance of the playoffs. A strong finish will showcase his positive impact and potential on a young team that needs effective leadership.
Despite the NBA’s season being suspended due to the coronavirus, Julius Randle has arguably been the most essential piece to the Knicks success under their newly-appointed Head Coach Mike Miller.
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Come next season, Randle will be ready to continue dominating alongside his young supporting cast in hopes of reaching the playoffs and making this Knicks franchise relevant on the court again.
The best-case scenario is that the Knicks re-sign Randle in the summer of 2022, investing in him as one of the cornerstones of this franchise for years to come. But Randle has to earn a big payday, of course, which will be the deciding factor in two summers.
Since Miller took over the coaching reins in early December, he has undoubtedly helped the Knicks grow as a team, amassing a 17-27 record since taking over for David Fizdale (4-18). As of today, the Knicks are currently ten games behind the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic, which is an exciting thought for what to expect from this young Knicks team moving forward.
What do you think? Can Julius Randle be the focal point of a playoff-contending New York Knick team? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.