Julius Randle Compares Knicks Guard to Former Lakers Teammate

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Getty D'Angels Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson of the 2016 Los Angeles Lakers pose during media day.

Game one of the regular season for the New York Knicks is right around the corner, and fans and media pundits alike are champing at the bit to see this new-look squad finally take to the hardwood for some meaningful action.

Through four preseason contests, Tom Thibodeau’s squad went 3-1 while outscoring opponents by an average score of 113.3 to 102. And though the team as a whole certainly impressed, it was the starting lineup now consisting of lead guard Jalen Brunson that caught the eye of the majority of spectators during this stretch.

Signed to a four-year, $104 million deal during the offseason, Brunson comes to New York viewed as what many hope to be the answer to the team’s backcourt troubles that have plagued them for the better part of the past two decades.

Now, though one may have expected there to be a bit of a learning curve between the Knicks and the 26-year-old, according to big man Julius Randle, the transition to him leading the charge at the one has been rather seamless.

When asked by a reporter at the team’s post-practice media session on October 16 if he was surprised by how quickly Brunson has managed to gel with the club, the former All-Star admitted that he was, and went as far as to say that the ease in which they’ve all managed to fit together is reminiscent of when he was initially paired up with a former teammate of his.

“At least from my personal time [being] in this league, it’s probably about as easy [of] a fit, at least from the point guard position, I’ve seen,” Randle told the reporter. “Another one was with Lonzo [Ball] when I played with him in [Los Angeles]. His first year he was easy to play with from the start.

“But yea, Jalen’s been great from day one so it surprised us a little bit but if you watch his tape and know the type of player he is he’s a very high IQ player so he’s going to figure it out and he has.”

When in comparison to last season, with Brunson now running the show at point guard, it’s already evident that his inclusion and contributions are already helping to improve the Knicks’ offensive efficiency, as they averaged 25.3 assists per contest throughout the preseason, ranking them within the top 12 in this particular category.

Considering they finished dead last in this area last season, is certainly a sign that this offense, now with a natural one-guard like Brunson, is already showing signs of being more efficient and fluid.

Brunson’s Fit With Knicks ‘Both’ Style, Personality

Following Randle’s remarks on how well Brunson has already fit in with the Knicks, a reporter had a follow-up question, asking him if he believes the reason why the point guard has been able to gel with the group so quickly was either because of “a style thing” or “a personality thing.”

In response, Randle stated that it was not “either, or” but, rather, both.

“I think both,” Randle told the reporter. “Yea, I think both. I think he’s coachable, he’s obviously a good player and a great teammate…I think everyone’s just playing for each other.”

Throughout New York’s four-game preseason slate, Brunson finished behind just RJ Barrett in points per game, dropping 17.8 a night whilst converting on a highly efficient 49.0% of his attempts from the floor and 46.2% of his attempts from deep.

On top of this, he also managed to post averages of 4.3 assists (tied with Randle for top rank on the team), 3.5 rebounds, and just shy of a steal per game.

Knicks Coach Believes Team Will Cut More

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau recently hinted at possible changes within the team’s offensive approach for the upcoming campaign.

During New York’s October 16 post-practice media session, when the head coach was asked by a reporter if it was a “concern” that his squad finished dead last in points off of cutting last season, Thibodeau stated that considering the roster shakeups they made this past summer, they should be much improved in this department during the upcoming campaign.

“Well, a lot of it is dependent on who you have on the floor,” Thibodeau told the reporter. “Like, a primary scorer, if you command a double team, the idea is anytime you can get two [defenders] onto the ball, that’s going to lead to good offense because you’re forcing the defense.

“You’re four on three on the backside, so you’re going to get cutting, you’re going to get open shots. And, so, I think we have more guys now that will probably command the blitz or the double team in the post, which should open things up.”

The Knicks closed out 2021-22 averaging 6.5 points per game off of cuttingranking them within the 27.6 percentile. Of their assortment of players, only Mitchell Robinson cracked the top 60 in cutting frequency, placing 53 overall at 19.8%.

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