The impossible prediction that the New York Knicks will make the playoffs with Julius Randle winning this season’s Most Improved Player Award.
As a New York Knicks fan, you’re probably not too excited about the upcoming season. After missing the playoffs a sixth consecutive time and finishing with a league-worst 17-65 record, the 2018-2019 regular season is surely one you’d like to forget.
While the off-season provided some relief, it was nothing more than a small Band-Aid for a gaping wound. Not only did we lose Kristaps Porzingis earlier in the year through a trade with Dallas, television and social media outlets led the Knick fan base to believe that Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson were going to swoop in and save Gotham like their very own version of the Justice League. As we all know, that didn’t happen so the Knicks made a bunch of signings that were inevitably underwhelming.
Names like Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, aren’t exactly ringing through households across the NBA fan base. But with perhaps the most underrated signing of the off-season, the Knicks landed Power Forward Julius Randle on a three-year, $63 million deal with the last year being a team option.
Fourteen minutes into the 2014 season, Randle broke his right tibia and was out for the rest of the season. The 2013 All–American 3rd teamer would come back strong the very next year and average a double-double in 81 games for the young Los Angeles Lakers. Putting up 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds in just his second year, on top of coming back from a major injury is not only impressive but also shows how promising his future can be.
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Since the injury, Randle has consistently averaged around 9 rebounds for his career. He’s seen huge spikes in his points per game average in each of the last three seasons going from 13.2 to 16.1 in his last two years with the Lakers to averaging 21.4 points last year with the Pelicans. It’s important to note that these point per game increases are in the midst of him taking back seats to Larry Nance on the Lakers and Anthony Davis on the Pelicans by coming off the bench for both teams.
Randle has been a double-double machine with 111 of them in 311 career games despite not starting in 80 of those career games!
Julius isn’t normally known for being in the news but when Enes Kanter called Zion Williamson an overhyped, “Julius Randle with hops”, Randle quickly reminded Kanter who he was with a tweet stating that the last time Kanter guarded him, he dropped 45 points on him. Kanter has yet to respond.
This is the guy that the Lakers gave up in order to sign LeBron James. This is someone who came back better than ever from a bad injury that robbed him of what could have been a great rookie year. He could’ve challenged Andrew Wiggins for the Rookie Of The Year had he averaged something close to what he did in his second year, after the injury.
“Blue and Orange Julius” is exactly what the Knicks need. This is going to be a blessing in disguise. He has the New York Knick DNA. With Randle we can reminisce on the days of the late Anthony Mason, may he rest in peace, Charles Oakley and Larry Johnson and add him to that list of gritty power forwards that gave us some great Knick moments in the past.
Mix that with a number of players with chips on their shoulders, essentially fighting for their NBA careers, a tough, respectable coach in David Fizdale and a young core of Alonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, headlined by “StaR.J” Barrett and this is a playoff team.
Barring injury, this impossible prediction is that the Knicks will win 42 games and squeeze into the 8th seed. They will win 15 games off grit and toughness alone. That’s a 25 game win increase. It’d be one of the biggest turnarounds in a long time, going from the team with the least wins to making the playoffs just a year later. That will be mostly because Julius Randle, who will be this year’s Most Improved Player. With no other forward in his way to fight for production and being the Knicks clear number one scoring option, Randle will flourish in his new role that he’s earned and is ready for. I see a 23-point, 9-rebound 2020 season.
This is a meeting in the perfect place, at the perfect time; a player showing so much growth in production getting dumped off to a team that hasn’t seen a lot of recent success. If the Knicks do make the playoffs, Randle will undoubtedly be the reason.
Julius isn’t here to silence the doubters, he’s here to wake them up.