Julius Randle signed with the New York Knicks in free agency over four years ago, and his time in the city has been a roller coaster of a ride. He's gone from being on fans' bad sides to their good sides (twice).
Randle got off to a rough start in year five, but he's since turned it around. He underwent ankle surgery at the beginning of the offseason, and that understandably affected his summer workouts. He couldn't hit much, including at the rim, an area he usually dominates. It took a while for Randle to get his legs under him, but that isn't what frustrated fans.
In Monday's game at Minnesota, Randle posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, but he shot 6-of-16 from the field, 1-of-6 from three, and 8-of-12 from the free throw line.
Like the Knicks' offense, Randle couldn't get anything going. There's going to be nights where that's the case. It's what happens during a long 82-game season, but what was inexcusable from the loss was Randle's streaky effort.
Julius Randle's effort called into question after Knicks loss to Wolves
That eight-second clip explains why New York fans get frustrated with Julius Randle. Maybe it's because the Knicks were losing or he was struggling offensively, but none of that justifies taking a defensive possession off.
This isn't abnormal behavior from Randle. What makes it even more frustrating is that there are periods where he's locked in on both ends and others where he's nonchalant. That isn't something the Knicks can have from one of their star players. Even when Jalen Brunson struggles, he gives more than 100 percent.
For the fans who scream "Trade Randle!" every chance they get, it's silly to root against someone who plays for your team. As long as he's in New York, he will average around 35 minutes per game. Even when he isn't hitting his shots or isn't engaged, Tom Thibodeau will leave him out there. That's another issue for another day.
All that is to say that the Knicks need the best version of Randle. Unsurprisingly, in the team's six losses this season, he's failed to shoot higher than 37.5% from the floor. Except for the win over the Cavaliers on Oct. 31, when Randle shot 35.7%, he's shot at least 40% in all of New York's wins. His success directly correlates with the team's success.
So, it's discouraging to see him stand around on defense whenever he pleases. The Knicks have a reputation for not giving up. They're that gritty team that won't die. More than anyone else on the team, Julius Randle needs to embrace that. If he does, New York might just become unstoppable.