Are the Knicks better off without Julius Randle?
Julius Randle gets a bad rap with a lot of Knicks fans. Knicks Twitter is full of fans who believe the Knicks would be better off without him. That is understandable as Randle has had an up-and-down tenure as a Knick.
His first season was disappointing as he lacked efficiency on offense and at times didn't play hard on defense. Randle's second season was a smashing success as he made the All-Star game and got the Knicks back into the playoffs. The problem is Randle was horrific in the playoffs vs the Atlanta Hawks. He shot 29.8% from the field as the Knicks lost in 5 games.
Year 3 of Randle as a Knick was a huge disappointment. Not only was he inefficient on offense and sometimes flat-out didn't try on defense but he was openly critical of Knicks fans. He did not take getting booed well. It looked like the only way out was a trade out of town.
Thank goodness that didn't happen as Randle bounced back in a big way this year. Maybe it was the addition of Jalen Brunson that took some pressure off of him or Randle's mental work in the off-season that got him back on track. He talked about how meditation helped him see things differently. Whatever it was Randle played great even if some of his issues from the past cropped up from time to time.
Knicks fans issues with Randle include lack of effort on defense, dealing with double teams poorly, and his presence stunting the growth of fan-favorite Obi Toppin. Toppin has stepped up on the rare times Randle has missed games with injury. He averaged 24.3 PPG over the last 4 games of the regular season and 27.2 PPG over the last 5 of the 2021-2022 season.
We have all seen Randle loaf on defense and it seems like that is not going to change. On/off stats show the Knicks defense is 6.3 points better when Randle is off the court. We cringe when it seems like everyone on the planet but Randle knows a double team is coming and he turns the ball over. It is obvious that the team moves the ball much better when Randle is off the court.
While Randle gives back some on defense, his offense more than makes up the difference. The Knicks are 6.6 points better on offense with Randle on the court this season. He is able to make the tough shots that most guys cannot. That is what makes him an All-Star. This Knicks team needs him in order to beat Cleveland.
The Knicks would not be better off without Julius Randle and I hope Knicks fans start to realize it during this postseason. Randle has a golden opportunity to redeem himself after his poor showing vs the Hawks a couple of years ago. He has a chance to cement himself in Knicks history and leave no doubt that he should be appreciated.