You are not crazy. You read that headline correctly. The Knicks should double down on Julius Randle after his performance in the first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.
In my daily life, when I’m not obsessing over the New York Knicks, I work in education. One of the biggest personal influences in my career, my friend Dan, introduced me to the concept of a Growth Mindset.
Once you start perceiving events in that way, it’s hard not to see the whole world through that kaleidoscope–even my beloved basketball franchise’s star player.
The Knicks should double down on Julius Randle because not in spite of his playoff performance.
Julius Randle exemplifies a growth mindset approach to the game of basketball arguably more than any person in the league, and he has the hardware to prove it.
If you were to walk through a Growth Mindset rubric, he would check off every box, but there are three key components that apply here.
(This page from the Peak Performance Center has a color-coded graphic that helps tremendously.)
First, a basketball player with a growth mindset views failure as an opportunity.
Let’s not get the facts twisted: a gentleman’s sweep against the Hawks feels very much like a failure.
Not so much losing that series (this team is far ahead of schedule by even making the playoffs this year) but how the team lost.
Randle played poorly. That’s a true statement. Per Basketball-Reference, his points and assists were down while his turnovers were up. That a disastrous stat line for any team’s best player.
Here’s the crucial idea: Randle won’t rest on his laurels after this. If missing the bubble drove the improvement we saw this year, I am excited about what progress this year’s playoff performance will drive.
That transitions nicely into the next trait of a growth mindset that Randle exemplifies: players with a growth mindset believe that effort is the path to mastery.
What no teammate or coach has ever questioned about Randle is his effort. He works and works and works some more.
It is unfathomable that he would just suddenly stop working, and working is improving.
You could sell me a lot of pipe dreams about this franchise (my current favorite is both Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard joining forces with Randle and RJ Barrett next year), but I’ll never buy Randle as the type of player to just coast.
Finally, basketball players with a growth mindset view others’ success as inspirational.
Randle did not just storm off the court when his team was eliminated, he stayed around and congratulated the Hawks. They took what he wants, but it was not cause to throw a tantrum. It’s another button to push as he works through three-a-days in the summer.
The way he speaks about Kobe Bryant and the lessons he learned sharing the bench with an all-time great is further proof that Randle is inspired by the success around him.
Having a growth mindset matters here because instead of viewing this as the pinnacle of Randle’s time with the Knicks, it reframes it as a jumping-off point.
You could be disgruntled and call this team a fraud or however you want to phrase it. Orrrrrrr, you could recognize that Randle’s commitment to his craft, his work ethic, his (let’s get real on the nose with it) growth is how the Knicks got to this point.
Julius Randle ain’t done growing yet, and the Knicks would be wise to invest in that reality.