I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago on what it would take for the Knicks to land a star player. The Knicks have not had a true star player since Carmelo Anthony left. Kristaps Porzingis showed flashes of stardom, but struggled to stay healthy and then wanted out of New York. They struck out on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant and Knicks fans were clamoring for someone to help. In comes Julius Randle. Randle was the “premier” acquisition of the offseason last year after they struck out on Irving and Durant. He put up some decent numbers in his first season as a Knick, but ultimately left fans and teammates frustrated. However, Randle has taken a major step forward this season and is playing like the star player the Knicks have been looking for.
All-Star Level Production
Julius Randle is playing like a true all-star this season. He is averaging the most points of his career, shooting over 40% from beyond the arc, averaging 11 rebounds a game, and 5.6 assists per game. He is doing everything on the court. Last night, Randle went off for 44 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists in a gutsy performance against the Hawks. Randle is the Knicks number 1 option and he is performing like it. He also made a career high 7 3-pointers last night, continuing the upward trend of being able to score from anywhere on the court.
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) February 16, 2021
Before this season, Julius Randle never shot above 34% from 3-point land, and even that was an outlier. Excluding this season and his 2018-19 season with the Pelicans, Randle has not shot above 27% from 3. However, this season he has raised his 3-point shooting to 40.6%, by far the highest of his career. He is also doing this 4.4 attempts per game, the most attempts of his career. Randle has shown the ability to score from all three levels, but has shown the most improvement from beyond the arc.
Julius Randle has stepped into the go-to guy role for the Knicks. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has leaned on Randle more than almost any coach in the NBA. Randle is one of the leaders in minutes per game across the entire league. In those minutes, Thibodeau and players of all ages look to Randle for leadership on and off the court. Young players like RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley notice how hard Randle works on the practice court and they try to emulate his work ethic.
The Knicks are putting together one of their most successful seasons in ages. As it stands right now, the Knicks are 14-15 which is good for fourth in the Atlantic Division, and only 1/2 game back from the Celtics. However, that record is also good for sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks may look to swing another trade after adding Derrick Rose a couple of weeks ago. Kevin Knox has fallen out of the rotation and the Knicks may look to package him and some draft picks for another star player. Bradley Beal has been linked to the Knicks so that may be an option. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Knicks are really moving in the right direction and Julius Randle is carrying the load.
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-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)