- Tyler Kruse
An All-Star Knick?
I want to start by personally apologizing to future all-star Knick Julius Randle on behalf of Knicks fans everywhere. Does the former Laker turned Pelican now New York Knick have a case for the coveted "Most Improved Player" award? Who knows, but he's well on his way to his first all-star selection.
While it's incredibly early, and anything can happen over the remainder of the season, Julius has been lights out. Though he had his moments last year, he struggled to be "the guy," quite the opposite through 14 games this season.
Prior to last year, Julius was pretty damn solid during his final year with the Lakers and only year with the Pelicans. The MIP award may be a stretch for the Knicks starting Power Forward, but by no means is being an all-star. While his points and rebounds have shown an increase, his playmaking is where he truly shines.
With a usage percentage of 27.7% up ever so slightly from last year, one would expect close to the same assist percentage. Well, not quite. Randle has seen his assist percentage nearly double from 15.8% up to 31.4%. His assists per game numbers have increased dramatically too, of course, from 3.1 to 6.7 per game.
Indeed his turnovers have skyrocketed, too, right? Wrong. While there is a slight increase, that's to be expected when you're one of the team's primary playmakers. The next closest Knick in assists per game is the controversial Elfrid Payton, averaging 4.2 as the starting Point Guard.
Randle is one of three players averaging over 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. The other two are Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic. What's even crazier is that Randle's shooting ~50/35/78 is higher across the board than Luka Doncic and his line of ~46/29/73. One is already getting MVP attention while the other is hardly talked about by mainstream media. That's fine; I have a feeling that's exactly how he likes it.
One stat not often discussed with Randle is his improved mid-range game. Through 14 games, he's shooting 11.4% better from 10-16 feet and an improvement of 17.5% from 16 feet out to the 3 point line. While I couldn't find a specific statistic, it seems he's getting fouled more on mid-range shots, possibly bumping his percentage slightly.
While I don't have a ton of eye-popping or intriguing defensive numbers, he has shown improvement or at least improved effort on that side as well. He won't make an all-defensive team during his career but to be serviceable on that end is something encouraging in its own right.
Should the Knicks remain competitive, which Eastern conference forward prevents him from getting to that all-star level? He may not start, but he can compete at that level. Say what you want about the man and the team he's on, but there is no question when you look at the stats. In the East, he's 2nd in assists, 6th in points, and 3rd in rebounds and, frankly, could be higher, depending on what position you classify various players.
As I stated, anything can happen but if Julius keeps this up he will certainly be an all-star. I've seen a lot of talk on NBA Twitter about trading the re-emerging PF, and while it's fun to speculate, I implore you all to enjoy the ride. Lessons in New York are learned the hard way. All-stars in the NBA are hard to come by, and when you have one, hang on tight.
PS - to all New York Knicks fans out there, I like most of you, am a die-hard Knicks lifer. I am by no means an expert and really just love chatting and following the Knicks. Give me a follow on twitter, I love to talk Knicks and frankly tweet far too often about them. @TylerRyanKruse. I will surely follow back. New York Forever!