The New York Knicks currently find themselves in a situation that seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the 2021-22 season. Losers of 10 out of their last 11 games and 16 of 19, they’ve gone from looking like potential contenders to collecting ping pong balls on their way to the draft lottery.
Worse yet — assuming they don’t miraculously stumble into the play-in tourney and capture the eighth seed — they probably won’t be quite bad enough to have a real shot at a top pick.
A lot of things have gone wrong to allow the campaign to play out as it has. Ill-advised offseason signings, injuries (particularly Derrick Rose’s), Kemba Walker becoming expendable and Tom Thibodeau refusing to give his youngsters a shot have all been factors in the downturn.
However, Julius Randle’s regression after becoming an All-Star last season may be the ultimate bugbear. And the big man just got dunked on for it.
B/R: Randle Among NBA’s Biggest Disappointments
On Thursday, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale compiled his list of the most disappointing stars across the Association this season. Randle came in at No. 2 on the list, just behind the Nets’ Kyrie Irving. Wrote Favale:
Perking up over the past couple of weeks does not spare Julius Randle from this limelight. Even if you viewed his impact last year as anomalous (fair!), he still bagged a justifiable second-team All-NBA selection as well as a four-year, $117 max extension hardly anyone pushed back against in the moment.
Bracing for regression should have been—and, to some extent, probably was—the default. But few were prepared for a drop-off this all-encompassing.
That drop-off has been something to behold. Randle’s scoring average has dipped more than four points from 24.1 a night to 19.7. Moreover, he has been far less efficient in getting the points that he does. As of this writing, he’s logging cringe-worthy shooting splits of 41.5-29.9-76.1.
Last year, he was at 45.6-41.1-81.1.
Meanwhile, his team went from outscoring opponents by three points per 100 possessions when he was on the court in ’20-21 to getting outscored by 5.8 points/100 poss. this season.
Randle, to his credit, is reaching the rim more frequently. But his finishing at the basket remains decidedly below average, largely thanks to puzzling takeoff points and overall shot selection in traffic. Any and all defensive improvement he showed last season is gone, especially away from the ball.
Get all the latest Knicks news, analysis and viral content! Follow the Heavy on Knicks Facebook page!
The Bottom Line
Although Favale concedes that Randle probably isn’t as bad on average as he has seemed throughout the current campaign, the hoops scribe closed with a particularly damning statement about him as a go-to option and franchise cornerstone:
Reasonable minds understood Randle never projected as a sustainable No. 1 on a really good team. This season, though, is evidence of a player much worse than a potential No. 2…or even No. 3. And while the real version of Randle likely lies somewhere in between last year and this one, he remains best suited in a role that calls for a degree of agency over the offense he nowhere deserves, and that inherently limits the upside of his own team.