On Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Julius Randle is expected to be sidelined for weeks and that it would not be a matter of months before he can return from his dislocated shoulder injury.
This is positive news for New York Knicks fans, as there was worry he could miss extensive time that could significantly hinder the team's playoff run.
Even though Randle will be back soon, the Knicks need other players to help with one of their best players sidelined. Randle is averaging 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, putting him in contention to be an All-Star. That is a crushing blow to a team competing for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference.
No doubt, Tom Thibodeau will need other players to step up. The Knicks have always embraced that "next man up" mentality. Everyone will need to do their part, but three players must step up more than others.
3 Knicks who need to step up after Julius Randle shoulder injury
Hart was a critical piece in the second half of the Knicks' 2022-23 season, starting in five of their 11 playoff games. We know how impactful he is on the defensive end, and he is an underrated force on the glass.
Hart will likely remain in the starting lineup until Randle returns, being the best option as a backup forward. Grimes could also see time to open games, but that would require OG Anunoby to play the four, creating a small-ball situation. With the Knicks losing a high-level scorer, they'll need Hart to be able to shoot more, but he'll also have more of a green light.
Hart's best scoring season was 2021-22, where he averaged 13.4 points with the Pelicans before being traded to the Trail Blazers, putting up an impressive 19.9 points in 13 games. Will Hart replicate those numbers in Randle's absence? It's unlikely.
However, when you take a look at his role in Portland for that end-of-the-season stretch, Hart was able to take the ball off of the dribble and take more difficult shots.
In his role with the Knicks, it's clear that with his minutes off the bench, he is more of a spotup shooter, known for disrupting on the defensive end. Hart will have more opportunity to shoot now that the second-leading scorer is sidelined.