NY Knicks: 3 goals Tom Thibodeau should set for Julius Randle

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 27: Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks drives to the basket against Tobias Harris #12 of the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on February 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Limit Julius Randle’s ball-handling duties

Under Coach Miller, Randle achieved a modicum of success after he shifted playmaking duties to his point guards. Certainly, this correlated with Elfrid Payton’s return from injury, but it should remain an emphasis even under a new coaching regime and point guard. Coach Thibs should continue to limit Randle’s ball-handling duties and touches, even if it means reducing the number of assist opportunities.

Randle has had a propensity for turnovers since he entered the NBA. As Chip Murphy wrote for Elite Sports NY, Randle was the only player in the NBA with more than 200 turnovers and fewer than 230 assists during the 2018-19 season with the Pelicans. Since the 2014-15 season, he’s one of only 4 players with more than 900 turnovers and less than 1,100 assists.

Randle averaged 3.0 turnovers/game on only 3.1 assists/game while playing 32.5 minutes/game. Randle ended the season tied for 21st in the league in turnovers/game, and only Andre Drummond & Joel Embiid averaged fewer assists/game than him. In other words, for a non-point guard, Randle’s turning the ball over way too many times.

Of his 193 turnovers this season, 65 (per NBA Advanced Stats) were lost ball turnovers, 38 came off offensive fouls, and 19 were due to traveling. More than 63% of his turnovers came when Randle had the ball and wasn’t passing it to someone else. These numbers are only acceptable if Randle had the offensive potency of James Harden or LeBron James. Simply put, Randle holds onto the ball for way too long. It’s no surprise that teammates were often frustrated by this bad habit, as Marc Berman of the NY Post reported in April.

One drastic measure to reduce the turnovers, and ultimately cut down on touches, is to eliminate the spin move from his repertoire. To Randle, this move is as drastic as switching from a red meat to a vegan diet. However, it’s simply a necessary step to achieving a competent offense. This was forever exacerbated after Bootum, of The Strickland & Per 36 Podcast fame, produced a compilation of Randle’s turnovers, most of which come off the spin move.

Simply put, these spin moves often result in bad turnovers or really bad shots. Randle shouldn’t be holding onto the ball this long and needs to be a lot quicker in making decisions once given the ball.

The numbers simply don’t lie. Off drives, Randle averaged 0.8 turnovers/game, tied for 10th most amongst all forwards. Randle averages a time of possession of 3.2 minutes/game, putting him 17th amongst all power forwards, but putting him in a category of players that include Luka Doncic, LeBron James, & Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Taking the ball away from Randle’s hands allows him to focus on his strengths, which include scoring in the paint and quick-hitter assists in the post. Turning him into a point guard will result in more plays like the example in the video above.

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