New York Knicks: 3 ways Julius Randle will help fuel a postseason run

Julius Randle, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The NBA playoffs are scheduled to kick off on May 22nd and the New York Knicks are scheduled to be a part of the Eastern Conference field for the first time since 2012-2013. Even more incredibly, New York is poised to avoid the new play-in tournament that pits each conference’s 7-10 seeds against one another.

New York currently boasts a 38-30 record, good for 4th in the East. This means that the Knicks not only avoid the potential for a pre-playoff elimination. They would also hold home court for the opening round.

I recently wrote an article details why former MVP Derrick Rose is the most important player for the franchise’s potential postseason success. However, he is far from alone on the list of difference makers.

First-time All-Star Julius Randle also expects to be a key cog in his first taste of playoff basketball. Here are three reasons he could make a major difference.

Knicks: Julius Randle’s supreme talent

The NBA, more than any other major US sport, is a star-driven league. A single player has the ability to affect every aspect of a game. This is never truer than in a postseason setting.

It is no coincidence that the teams with the best players, historically, are much more likely to achieve championship success. Franchises typically live and die at the hands of their best players.

In the case of the Knicks, Randle is clearly the best player. The former #7 overall draft pick has thrived in his second season in NYC. Randle has surpassed his career marks in nearly every major statistical category. His per-game averages of 23.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists, make him one of the game’s more well-rounded talents. He stands out in NBA advanced metrics as well. 

It seems most likely that New York is destined for a matchup against either the Atlanta Hawks or Miami Heat in the opening round. Atlanta is led by soring star Trae Young, while Miami boasts a Finals duo in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

If they are successful in their first matchup, stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embid, Kevin Durant, and James Harden will be lurking.

Randle, while not on the same tier as these perennial All-Stars, give the Knicks a star of their own.

Julius Randle must continue his strong shooting for the Knicks

The most impressive aspect of Randle’s development is his shooting skills. The former Kentucky star has established himself as one of the league’s best shooting big men.

Always a good scorer around the rim, Randle has extended his range to a dangerous mid-range level and a consistent three-point shot.

This season, he’s posted a solid 48% shooting percentage from the field and a blistering 41% clip from three.

This allows Randle to get a quality shot from any space on the floor. He has the size and strength to muscle his way to points in the paint. The quickness and footwork to find a good shot at the mid-range level. And the pure shooting skills to find a good shot from deep.

This will be an awesome asset when the intensity and defensive pressure are at the highest point.

Randle has been a terrific rebounder for the Knicks

The East playoff field features several game-changing rebounders. The league’s overall leader, Clint Capela, resides in Atlanta. Antetokounmpo, Embid, Domantas Sabonis, Nikola Vucevic, and Russell Westbrook are all amongst the twelve NBA players to average double-digit rebounding numbers.

Without Randle, the Knicks would have an incredibly thin frontcourt. New York has already been without standout center Mitchell Robinson for most of the season. This leaves only veterans Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson to man the position. This is a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, Randle gives the club a clear presence on the boards.  What he may lack in height (Randle stands at just 6’8″) he more than compensates for in size (250lbs) and strength.

He is currently averaging nearly 11 rebounds per game. The Knicks will need him to continue that pace to have a fighting chance at a sustained playoff run.

Next. Why extending Julius Randle is an easy decision. dark