It was another masterful performance Friday night from New York Knicks forward Julius Randle: 44 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and only 3 turnovers. She made 16-of-29 shots from the floor and 6-of-11 from behind the arc in a 117-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden.
Five games have already been played for New York, which has now firmly established itself in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 30-27 record. The No. 6 is 1.5 games ahead of the No. 7 Miami Heat and only half a game behind the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics.
What a turnaround for the NBA’s most valuable team, as veteran Tom Thibodeau mixes veteran talent with young rookies to reveal what looks to be a bright future.
But perhaps the biggest revelation for the Knicks this year has been the emergence of Randle, who earned his first All-Star selection at 202-21. Before his rampage on Friday against Luka Doncic and company, he averaged 23.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and six assists.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound former Kentucky star and the Los Angeles Lakers’ No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft is in the midst of a basketball renaissance, with career-high averages in points per game, rebounds, assists and free throws.
Randle, however, was New York’s No. 1 option heading into the 2019-20 season, with very different results:
New York went 21-45 last year and Julius Randle is the number one option. The Knicks are currently fighting for a playoff spot with Randle as their No. 1 option. And they play on ESPN at a time of year when the national networks usually drop their games. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Randle’s improvement pic.twitter.com/c3rqa4AGub
– Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2021
So what exactly is going on?
There’s a lot to be said for the overall improvement of New York’s roster from 2019-20 to now, as there were two RJs on the roster this season. Barretta, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Immanuel Quickly and Obi Toppin have shown their talents at different times of the year.
But again, it was Randle who saw the biggest splash. In 28 wins over the Knicks before Friday, Randle was averaging 24.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists. In 27 losses, that’s 21.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Not surprisingly different. His completion percentage isn’t much different either, as he’s made 47.9% of his attempts in games won and 44.1% in games lost.
A closer look reveals that Randle shoots 44.7% behind the curve in wins and 35.4% behind the curve in losses.
And this is his key: The Knicks have a record of 10-7 this year when Randle makes three or more 3-pointers in a game (with wins over playoff contenders like Dallas, Atlanta and Milwaukee), and they have a record of 20-13 when he shoots 40% or better from beyond the arc.
In the 2019-20 season, Randle shot 33.7 percent from behind the arc in wins and just 24.3 percent in losses. His 3-point shots are improved and consistent no matter the situation, and all he does is get the Knicks back to the playoffs.
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