It is no secret that Julius Randle has had a rocky relationship with fans during his tenure with the New York Knicks. He had a lackluster first season, often cited for making bad decisions with the ball and being unwilling to move it. He then bounced back with a career year, which included an All-Star appearance, an All-NBA Second Team selection, and most importantly, leading the Knicks to a playoff berth.
Unfortunately, last season, Randle found himself back where he started in his time with the Knickerbockers. Randle spent much of last season struggling once again with turnovers and overdribbling. But even more concerning that season was Randle’s poor attitude and body language during games.
He could often be pouting when things weren’t going his way or excessively arguing with referees over a call he felt he should’ve gotten. It was an overall disappointing season for both Randle and the team, to put it lightly. But with the acquisition of Jalen Brunson as New York’s new point guard, Randle could be in for a season more in line with when Knicks fans were happy he wore orange and blue.
Jalen Brunson can unlock Julius Randle’s existing potential
In a practical sense, Brunson’s skill as a guard takes away a majority of the ball pressure that Julius had to deal with in the past three seasons in New York. Instead of seeing two opposing jerseys when he catches the ball in the post, he will likely only see one this year. This man-to-man set will not only make it easier for Randle to score, but it will also make it less likely for him to fumble the ball away.
In two games, this dynamic has already been shown off for fans to see with Randle combining for a total of three turnovers against Memphis and Detroit. This total in two games was Randle’s per-game average in turnovers last season.
On the other hand, Brunson had a combined zero turnovers while dropping 15 dimes in the first two games. Brunson’s ability to control the offense is decreasing Randle’s turnovers while having no negative impact on his own. This is an invaluable addition that has the Knicks currently near the top of the league in limiting their turnovers per game.
Jalen Brunson can also help Julius Randle mentally
In a mental sense, Brunson allows Randle to focus more on energy rather than outright leadership. In the past few seasons, he has had a rough time being the leader of the team because of his tendency to lose his cool. If the team’s leader looks and feels like he doesn’t want to be there, the rest of the team will follow. However, now with Brunson taking on the role of leadership as the team’s point guard, Randle is allowed to focus his energy on well…his energy.
It is the small things that go a long way for this team. Randle running to a teammate to help them off the floor. Clapping to encourage his team or dapping them up on their way to the bench. Like his negative energy, if he looks like he is having fun, the team will follow. It all starts with Brunson taking the weight off the shoulders of the Knicks’ All-NBA forward.
Signed to a two-year deal this offseason, Isaiah Hartenstein is looking for an opportunity. A Knicks team that needs what he brings could be a match.
In hindsight, it has been unfair of the Knicks organization to look for Randle to do all that he has been required to do in past seasons. He was required to be our leader, primary scorer, and playmaker all in one. That may not be what Randle is but luckily for the Knicks, it is no longer what he needs to be. Jalen Brunson has arrived.