The New York Knicks have only played six games since the regular season began, and fans are already growing tired of Julius Randle’s antics. It isn’t that he’s missing shots, as that can be connected to recovering from offseason ankle surgery, but instead, it’s his disengagement and blatant lack of effort.
Friday’s 110-105 In-Season Tournament loss to the Bucks would’ve easily resulted in a Knicks win if Randle had shot better. He scored 16 points and shot 5-of-20 from the field and 1-of-9 from deep, but again, it’s not unusual for players to start the season in a slump.
On a night when Jalen Brunson scored 45 points in 42 minutes, what stood out was Randle not passing out of double and triple teams to open teammates. During halftime in Milwaukee, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins went on a rant about Randle being a ball hog.
After the game, Tom Thibodeau didn’t directly call Randle out, but he did say some things that applied to the power forward.
"“You can’t predetermine. You can’t say, ‘Well, I haven’t had a shot, so now I’m gonna take a shot.’ The game tells you what to do,” Thibodeau said. “If you’re open, you shoot. If there’s three guys around, you hit the open man. It’s really simple. It’s not hard.”"
Tom Thibodeau emphasizes that Knicks need to “trust the pass” when defenses collapse
Julius Randle struggled with being double-teamed during his first season in New York in 2019-20. Jalen Brunson’s arrival in 2022-23 helped to take pressure off Randle, which led to him making his second All-NBA/All-Star team.
Maybe there’s actually some truth behind the ‘Odd Year Julius Randle’ conspiracy. He’s started the season averaging 13.7 points per game on 27.1% shooting from the field and 22.5% from three. He’s averaging 10.5 rebounds, so he’s still been active on the boards.
Tom Thibodeau has long been a Randle defender, which makes sense because, as his head coach, it’d be odd if he publicly spoke out against the forward. However, what doesn’t make sense is that it doesn’t seem as if Thibodeau holds Randle accountable.
Randle threw up his hands after Brunson missed a shot in the final minute of Friday’s game before he walked down the court on a pivotal Bucks possession.
His effort, or lack thereof, goes far beyond him being double-teamed or dribbling out the shot clock before chucking up a bad look. The Knicks need Julius Randle, but not the version of him that’s shown up in the team’s first six games.