NY Knicks: Has Tom Thibodeau burnt out Julius Randle?

Julius Randle, NY Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, NY Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

After the NY Knicks 113-96 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4, I’m convinced Tom Thibodeau has not learned from past mistakes. Julius Randle shot 7/19 from the field today for 23 points, which was his best game by far.

Randle has struggled all series, constantly missing shots he has made all year and is lacking the aggression he had all regular season. Though many people have said Randle is choking, I’m skeptical. This is what makes me ask: Has Tom Thibodeau Burnt Out Julius Randle?

NY Knicks: Tom Thibodeau may have played Julius Randle too much in the regular season

According to ESPN, Julius Randle averages the most minutes per game at 37.6. Tom Thibodeau has a history of this, as Luol Deng averaged the most minutes in back-to-back seasons stretching from 2011-2013.

On top of this, Thibs is widely criticized for having Derrick Rose in at the end of the game, where he tore his ACL back in 2011, as their Chicago Bulls had the win locked in.

When Thibodeau coached the Minnesota Timberwolves, their three offensive leaders Jimmy Butler (3rd), Andrew Wiggins (9th), and Karl Anthony Towns (13th), all were in the top 15 for minutes played in their 2017-18 playoff season.

Butler, Wiggins, and Towns looked tired when they lost 4-1 to the Houston Rockets, who coincidentally, like the Hawks, also had a fast-paced offense that had Clint Capela at center, and it looks like Randle is suffering a similar fate.

When you are Randle’s size, driving to the paint is very effective. Julius did this all season long, but now in the playoffs is consistently looking to pass the ball out without looking for a shot. Randle is tired, and the most tiring thing on offense to do is to take someone to the rim and muscle past them for the layup, which is why Randle is attempting more mid-range shots this series.

The only other reason Randle is reluctant to take the ball to the hoop is Clint Capela is waiting down there for him. I mentioned earlier in the series that the Knicks desperately needed to shut Capela down on offense, however, he is still lurking on defense.

Capela is a top rim protector in the league, and there is really no way around it. The only very effective option is to play Randle at the center and Obi at power forward, creating a 5 out offense, which could hurt the NY Knicks defense, so they probably will not do that. Though I am not against trying it, as my DailyKnicks teammate Zachary Bachar pointed out, the Obi Toppin, along with Gibson, who is less helpful in this case, is flourishing, why not test it out for a few minutes on Wednesday.

At the end of the day, though, Randle has been solid at drawing fouls at the rim all year, if he is not even attempting to get Capela to leave his feet, something he’s prone to doing on defense, he is probably exhausted.

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