Julius Randle Dominant in 2021
Julius Randle has emerged as one of the best players in the NBA this season and has positioned the Knicks nicely in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Knicks have struggled greatly over the past years since the departure of Carmelo Anthony. In those years the Knicks did not have a definite star player and after being underappreciated by the Lakers and Pelicans the Knicks signed Randle to a three-year $63 million deal.
The question still remains: Is Julius Randle finally producing like he was expected to out of the draft?
Improving Every Year
Since being drafted No. 7 in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers Randle slowly but steadily continued to improve each year. Randle is a slightly undersized Power Forward at 6’8” out of the University of Kentucky. Randle has never been an All-Star, but as a Laker Randle was a consistent role player on a rather bad Lakers team.
Randle’s career as a Laker got off to a bumpy start after he broke his tibia in his NBA debut. Randle recovered fully and put together a solid few years in L.A. before pursuing an opportunity with the Pelicans as Lebron came to town. There is a reason scouts felt so highly about Randle making him a top-10 pick in the draft and right now he is showing his value.
Randle had a good one-season with the Pelicans before coming to the Knicks to fill a big role. In his first season on the Knicks Randle averaged 19.5 points per game. 9.7 rebounds per game and 3.1 assists per game.
Randles’s first season was very good, but in 2021 he has emerged as an All-Star worthy number one option on the Knicks. Randle has taken a huge role on the Knicks this year and is leading the team in points with 23.1 per game, rebounds with 11 per game, and assists with 5.6 per game.
Recently Randle posted a season-high in points with 44 in a big win over the Atlanta Hawks and is beginning to gain attention league-wide. “A lot of people may have wrote me off, a lot of people may have had their doubts or whatever it may be, and that was just motivation or fuel,” said Randle. “For me, it was just about coming back a better player and a better teammate than I was last year.”
Since the departure of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have struggled to find a number one option star player. With Randle, the Knicks are getting a player who goes in and does his job without receiving all of the media attention.
Not only is Randle leading the Knicks in all three of the main statistical categories he is a veteran on a young Knicks team. RJ Barrett came out of Duke with great potential and is expected to be a future All-Star.
Barrett complements Randle well as he does a great job working to help him find open shots. Barrett has noticed the contribution Randle has made for the Knicks and expects him to be named an All-Star this season.
“What else does he have to do?” said Barrett. “The man’s an All-Star.” In last week’s fan voting results Randle ranked eighth among frontcourt players with 387,114 votes.
Where the Knicks Stand
Randle has powered the Knicks to a middle-of-the-pack contender this season in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have a rather easy schedule coming up with five of their seven next opponents at .500 or below and should be able to position themselves nicely heading into the All-Star break.
The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since the 2013 season and unexpectedly Julius Randle is a driving force leading them hopefully to the playoffs.