Randle is averaging career highs across the board with 23 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists per game. Julius Randle has always been a solid scorer and rebounder. However, he struggled last year. The Knicks counted on Randle to be their number one option, but he could not handle the spotlight. So, are these numbers all sustainable for Randle?
The former Kentucky Wildcat is taking 17 shots per game and hitting them at a 48 percent rate. Last year, Randle took 15 shots per game and connected at a 46% rate. So the uptick in his scoring is easily explained. You take more shots, and you will score the ball more. Randle is not hitting these shots at an extremely high rate as his career field goal percentage sits at 49 percent. The scoring looks legit as you can see from the numbers. Coach Tom Thibodeau trusts Randle and is running the offense through him. If Randle continues to see the same number of shots, then his scoring average should stay the same.
Another area Julius Randle has greatly improved is his rebounding. Last year, Randle averaged 9.7 rebounds per game, and this year he sits at 12 per game. Number 30 has always been regarded as a particularly good rebounder. His career numbers also indicate that as he is sitting at 9.1 rebounds per game. So why the sudden increase? Well, that could simply be a product of Randle playing more minutes. Randle is seeing the court for a career-high 38 minutes per game. When Randle is on the court he will rebound the ball. Give Randle more minutes and he will give you more rebounds.
The last area we will look at is Randle’s assist numbers. Julius has never averaged more than 3 assists per game. So far he is dishing out 7.4 assists per game. Much of this should be credited to the coach’s system. Randle is often the primary ball-handler on the court. Most of these assists are coming from the Knicks’ improved three-point shooting. Randle is driving the ball then kicking it out to an open shooter. Given Randle’s uptick in scoring, teams are focusing in on the point forward. The Knicks are shooting 37 percent from beyond the arch. Last year they shot 33 percent from the three-point line. I still do not see Randle putting up seven assists per game when he’s never averaged more than three. I can easily see that number dropping down to four or maybe five per game.
My final verdict is that Randle is a much-improved player. The numbers suggest that Randle has worked on his game and is improving. Thibs is also playing Randle a ton of minutes so naturally, his numbers should improve. If he continues this pace, he could be in line to win the Most Improved Player of the year. The Knicks would also benefit from his outstanding play. They could sell high on Randle and land the Star they so often covet. They could also keep Randle and try to make a playoff push. Either way, it’s a win-win scenario for both the Knicks and Randle.