Encourage Randle to find alley-oop opportunities and cutters
While a bulk of the conversation in this piece relates to diminishing Randle’s touches and playmaking opportunities, that doesn’t completely exclude him from finding assist opportunities. Thibs should encourage Randle to take advantage of his vision to both find alley-oop opportunities and cutters in the lane.
Of Randle’s 198 assists this season, only 17 came in the form of finding cutters for points in the paint. Yes, a good chunk of that is due to poor floor spacing and inadequate coaching, especially early on in the season. With an experienced coach in Thibs, there’s a great opportunity to instill some off-ball motions.
One of Randle’s favorite targets off cuts this season was RJ Barrett. Barrett contributed to 6 of his 17 assists in those situations. One beauty from early on in the season occurred against the Atlanta Hawks when Randle caught a porous defense napping to quickly find Barrett for an easy dunk.
Despite Mitchell Robinson’s propensity for thunderous, rim-rattling dunks, he’s only been the recipient of 4 alley-oop passes from Randle. This is definitely a missed opportunity for the Knicks and Randle to capitalize off of a perpetual alley-oop threat.
With Thibs on board, the Knicks will certainly emphasize defense, especially grabbing defensive rebounds. It is here where Randle can utilize his playmaking skills to quickly find alley-oop opportunities, with someone like Mitch, on the break. In this sequence against the Portland Trailblazers on New Year’s Day, Randle grabbed a rebound, quickly got up the floor, and found Mitch wide-open for a dunk.
Thibs should utilize Randle’s passing abilities in a similar manner to Joakim Noah during his time with the Chicago Bulls. Yes, Noah and Randle are night and day on the defensive end, but the Knicks should and must capitalize on any incremental opportunity for success.