Just when you think you’re out, he pulls you right back in. New York Knicks All-Star Julius Randle is anything but predictable. After struggling out of the gate with multiple poor outings, he’s found his stride. So much so, that he took home Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for games that took place from November 27th to December 3rd.
During that stretch he averaged 24.7 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 7.3 assists. Additionally, he tallied 25 points and 20 boards in New York’s In-Season Tournament victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 28 officially clinched them a spot in the knockout rounds.
Randle’s season has been anything but ordinary for a normal player, but for the 6'8 behemoth, his best ability has been availability. That, in and of itself, has made his presence key. He was dealing with some knee soreness before Friday’s game against Toronto but still managed to compete and log 35 minutes and 20 points.
“You almost come to expect that from him. If he can go, he’s going,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau told the New York Post after the game. “And I love that about him. He wanted to get out there, and he warmed up early to see how he would feel. And then he got with the medical people. But Julius, he gives you what he has. He doesn’t take days off.”
Some of Randle’s more recent strides highlight ways in which he can contribute when his shot is not falling, motor permitting.
The roller coaster Julius Randle experience continues for the Knicks
Even for a single game, it takes a lot to grab 13 rebounds. This is especially true if the player in question is not a center who’s camped under the basket on most offensive possessions. Randle’s consistency in attaining rebounds is an asset. He averaged 10 boards per game last season, and 9.9 rebounds a year prior.
With last season’s addition of Jalen Brunson, the orange and blue have not needed Randle to handle the ball nearly as much as they have in the past. Despite this, the Texas native has seemingly become a better playmaker since Brunon’s arrival.
This could be a result of New York’s newer weapons like Josh Hart or the sporadic growth of RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, but even these possibilities require Randle to make smart decisions out of both the wing and post.
He’s currently averaging 5.5 assists per game. If the season were to end today, that would be his highest average since the 2020-21 campaign that saw him essentially carry the bulk of the Knicks’ offense.
Both his rebounding and playmaking have required a specific amount of “will” that some critics have claimed he lacks from time to time, and this same grit could be a major step towards becoming a more steady contributor. It sounds simple, but even small adjustments can pay major dividends down the road.
The Julius Randle experience is a phenomenon like no other in the NBA. He’s now gotten past what was an abysmal start to his season, but if he wants to play with the vigor he’s recently shown, he’ll need his motor to stay consistent.