RJ Barrett and Julius Randle are still NY Knicks’ Winning Formula

Saying that Julius Randle and RJ Barrett are the NY Knicks‘ two best players is stating the obvious. However, even the obvious isn’t clear these days.

The fog that has suffocated the 2021-22 Knicks has forced fans to stumble around like Sandra Bullock in Bird Box, blindfolded while navigating a suddenly scary and uncertain future.

The hot takes have been flying around for months now, varying from the mild “it’s only January” to the extreme “fire Thibodeau and blow it up.”

But, one of the more popular opinions of late has been “let’s trade Julius Randle and build around a hungry RJ Barrett.”

While one of the only things we know for sure at the moment is Randle is down bad and Barrett is thriving, there is evidence that the Knicks’ best course of action towards a winning formula is actually by keeping this duo intact.

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle is a Winning Combo for NY Knicks

During their latest contest, the Knicks fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 95-93. Barrett struggled from the free-throw line once again while Randle once again struggled period.

It wasn’t pretty, but Randle finished with 18 points. Barrett scored 24.

Not only would just two more points from Randle have potentially closed the gap and forced overtime, or led to a different outcome altogether, but if it helped the Knicks win it would be another win towards this key stat:

The New York Knicks are 4-1 this season when both Barrett and Randle score 20+ points and 22-11 all-time!

Now of course there are many reasons why the Knicks have lost games this year besides whether or not Randle or Barrett sink a couple of more baskets.

For example, the Knicks’ free-throw shooting has been horrendous lately.

If Barrett shot better than 5/10 from the charity stripe he could’ve once again been the hero he’s been in 2022.

The Knicks bench has also been of little help over the past several games. Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks shot a combined 1/14 from the field on Monday night alone.

Neither Barrett nor Randle were at the top of their games, but they were good enough together to nearly beat a very good Cavs team.

So, I dove deeper into those five games from this season where both players accomplished scoring 20+.

To make sure this isn’t just an anomaly, I wanted to check if both Randle and Barrett are actually producing such games efficiently while having an impact throughout the box score.

Also, it is extra important that one player is not taking away opportunities from the other, that way we know if they’re truly sharing a high usage rate or if they’ve been just taking turns and getting lucky.

If you watch the Boston Celtics for example, they are a team that doesn’t win as often as you’d expect even with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown playing hot potato on their way to 20 point performances nightly.

Here’s what I found…

Since 2022 began, the New York Knicks are 6-6. Not exactly something to get excited about, but half of those wins are included in that 4-1 record on the season.

During those three wins, Randle averaged 26 points and shot 53.5% from the field on 18.6 attempts per game, while Barrett scored 28.6 PPG shooting 46.8% from the field on 21.3 shots per game.

No, these aren’t sustainable numbers, but not only did these performances lead to wins, but both players were also able to be high usage players while also being highly efficient.

For all the talk about “can Randle play next to a high usage guard?” or “can RJ and Randle coexist as leading scoring options,” the answer has been a convincing yes in recent games.

Additionally, I mentioned that I hoped those two can still be impactful throughout the box score even with the scoring burden.

And impactful they have been.

Both Randle and Barrett recorded separate double-doubles during these wins (Randle: 30p/16r vs ATL, Barrett 28p/14r vs LA). Randle averaged 10.3 rebounds and 6 assists and Barrett averaged 9 rebounds and 4 assists. For each of them, those numbers are higher in those categories than what they are averaging for the season.

If the Knicks are going to make a late push to avoid the play-in tournament and cement playoff positioning, it is clear that a formula of Barrett and Randle playing like stars is a successful one.

Hopefully, Barrett can shore up that FT% and remain aggressive driving to the hoop. Randle also needs desperately to figure out how the heck to be a consistent scoring presence.

Last season taught us that this tandem can win a lot of games together, so it was fair for us to expect to see that duo again perform well and even grow.

We didn’t know what was in store then and definitely don’t know now, but it’s clear RJ and Julius need to be the ones who lead the Knicks out of the mist.