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Julius Randle and the New York Knicks possibly couldn’t imagine such a reemergence a season ago after the brutal thumbs down gesture during RJ Barrett’s game winning three point bank shot victory over a tough Boston Celtics team who ended up going to the 2022 NBA Finals.
However, here we are a year later with Randle and new teammate Jalen Brunson both being potentials in the upcoming 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, along with a solid & hard nosed supporting cast briefly got the Knicks into sixth seed for a moment, and it feels like they haven’t even reached their potential yet due to personnel still familiarizing themselves with Jalen Brunson. Besides all of that, Randle was playing MVP basketball before this current four game losing streak. Randle before this recent rough stretch of games reminded fans of the crazy pandemic season when most gyms were nearly empty and the power forward was shooting lights out from three.
During the last ten games, Randle has been averaging 25.1-points and 14.5-rebounds per game to go along with an average of 4.6-assists during that span. Despite recent struggles which includes center Mitchell Robinson’s severe thumb injury, Randle has been a huge component to their overall success.
We all understand the importance of Jalen Brunson’s arrival to the Knicks and how much it has mentally helped Julius Randle. This will be crucial because we all understand how long it has been since the Knicks had a legit all-star point guard.
Despite Randle’s Stellar Season, Knicks Bench Must Gain More Of Thibs’ Trust.
More reasonable balanced minutes distribution would help Randle somewhat stay fresh down the stretch late in the fourth quarter. Such an adjustment would only lead to a less fatigued Randle which would result in a little less potential for blown leads and fatigue driven mistakes or fouls. The last thing an opponent wants to see is Randle at full strength pounding their best player into submission in the paint and on the boards.
Although Obi Toppin is fully healthy, it’ll take some time for him to get back to his usual elite conditioning level. Toppin’s play will be extremely important moving forward especially with the Knicks missing Mitchell Robinson’s length, defense, and rebounding on both ends.
Miles McBride, Isaiah Hartenstein, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin are extremely important bench weapons, and their efficiency can drastically improve or compromise Knicks chances of winning a basketball game. The bench lineup the Knicks have been using lately consists of McBride, Toppin, Hartenstein, and Quickley. This selected group has been outscored by 17-points when they play and it’s not the largest sample size. This group also has a Free Throw rate in the 9.5 percentile per 100 field goal attempts. During their current four game losing streak, the Knicks been suffering from a combination of mishaps such as poor free throw shooting, poor three-point shooting, an uncharacteristic number of turnovers, sporadic bench play, mixed in with a little bit of poor officiating, plus bad luck. Many are still blaming Head Coach Tom Thibodeau for questionable decisions in terms of his rotation and desired matchups throughout this rough stretch of games.
Quickley missed the most recent game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena with a sore knee, however, his improvement this season has been superb. Quickley is currently averaging 15.5-points and 4.2- rebounds to go along with 2.2-assists during the last ten games. During that span, Quickley has also been shooting a stellar 90% from the free throw line on 3.2-free throw attempts.
Knicks Need Julius Randle To Get Hot Again Immediately.
Overall, the Knicks are playing decent basketball with potential for even more improvement. Young players are no longer “kids” as they continue their development. Every player doesn’t have the same timing when it comes to their progress, however, everybody is aiming for the same goal, which is to improve and win basketball games under this current Knicks regime. With Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle current play as catalysts, the Knicks could go farther than anyone expects. However, the second unit must continue gaining trust from Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and it starts with defense and limiting turnovers.