When Julius Randle first signed with the New York Knicks, the hope was that he could blossom into a star-level player the organization could move forward with.
In his debut season, the 2019-20 campaign, Randle was given the keys to the offense by coach David Fizdale to ugly results. Randle consistently struggled to hang onto the basketball, particularly when executing numerous spin-moves, resulting in the nickname “Beyblade.”
Knowing he had disappointed the fan base and the organization, Randle worked extremely hard in the offseason to improve as a ball-handler, distributor, shooter, and shot-maker. Boy, did he deliver. It was during that 2020-21 season that Randle burst onto the scene as a first-time All-Star, an MVP candidate, and the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Altogether, he was rewarded with being named to the All-NBA Second Team.
Unfortunately, a bit more still had to happen before Randle’s cinderella year was truly over; the playoffs saw Randle become a shell of himself. The clock had struck midnight; he couldn’t buy a bucket as the Atlanta Hawks shut him down and won that first-round matchup to eliminate the Knicks.
What went wrong for Julius Randle and the Knicks in 2021-22?
As if that ending wasn’t tragic enough, then the 2021-22 season happened. Julius Randle seemingly overnight went from a fairytale hero without a happily ever after to the embodiment of a living nightmare. His stats plummeted, as did his effort, while his tendency to aggravate fans soared to an all-time high. As Randle’s reputation spiraled downward, so did the Knicks’ place in the standings.
Coming into this year, most people had been long over Randle and wanted him traded, gone for good. But, we all knew deep down that this front office had no interest in doing so. This meant that Randle would have to transform once again; to reclaim his status as a positive presence in the box score and in the locker room, and to reclaim the good graces of the fanbase.
In many ways, Randle needed a reality check to become an All-Star again in the eyes of the NBA and in the eyes of the New York faithful. None of this was going to be achieved easily.