The New York Knicks entered Monday with the NBA’s longest active win streak as they have won nine games in a row.
The team holds fourth place in the Eastern Conference and that is in large part due to the kind of season All-Star Julius Randle is having.
Charles Oakley Not Impressed by Zion
Randle is a next-generation type of big man who can play big but still has the versatility and guard skills that separate him from the other prototypical front-court players.
Another player who fits that mold is New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson who is having the best season of his young career in 2021. On the season he is averaging 27.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
Knicks’ legend Charles Oakley however is not impressed by Zion as he thinks he is not anything that we have not seen before.
“(Zion) ain’t doing nothing special,” Oakley said of Williamson during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio, via Diamond Leung of The Athletic.
“He’s just putting the ball down, guys they don’t slide no more. They reach in and then look behind like, ‘Oh, I thought I had help.’ There ain’t no help. Keep him in front for 2-3 dribbles, you might have help.”
Oakley Says Randle Is Better Than Zion
Oakley also feels that the Knicks already have the better version of Zion in Randle.
“I think he’s a better version of Zion Williamson to me,” Oakley said of Randle.
“Because he can do more. Zion Williamson. … I said last year, (the Knicks) didn’t have a superstar. And now they got a superstar.”
Thibs Expected This Season from Randle
On the season, Randle is averaging 24.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. His play this season took many people by surprise but not Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. According to Thibs, he could see the fire in Randle’s eyes from day one.
“It always starts with your best players, if they work like that it sets a tone for the team, and so [Randle] is relentless,” Thibodeau said via Ian O’Connor of the New York Post.
“It’s not an accident that he’s having the type of season that he’s having. His commitment, I could see it from the first day I met him, the type of conditioning he had and how committed he was to turning this thing around.”
Zion Loves New York
New York has been seen as a potential free agency destination for Williamson when he could become a free agent in 2024. The 20-year-old set the internet on fire during his postgame interview following his latest performance at Madison Square Garden as he was gushing over the world’s most famous arena.
“I mean, New York is the mecca of basketball,” Williamson said to reporters via Fox Sports.
“I love playing here. I played here in college. This is my first time playing in the pros. I mean, this atmosphere — whether they’re cheering for you, whether they’re booing for you — it’s amazing. Honestly, I think, outside of New Orleans obviously, I think this might be my favorite place to play. Outside of New Orleans. I can’t even lie to you. I can’t lie to you.”
Whether Zion will ever play in The Mecca remains to be seen. But with what the team has done this year it is clear that New York’s future is bright.