When the Knicks signed Julius Randle to a four-year, $117 million extension, they anticipated he would be their star player moving forward. However, the All-Star from 2020 has taken a significant step backward this season, averaging nearly 5 points fewer than his statistics during the 2020–21 campaign.
Randle’s regression has put his team in a bind, forcing the second unit to pick up the slack, which was apparent in the Knicks’ most recent victory over the Detroit Pistons. Just barely making it across the finish line, scoring 94 points compared to Detroit’s 85, the starting team put up one of the worst performances of the season. Randle finished with just five points on 2 of 11 shooting, contributing 10 rebounds and five assists. The combination of Julius and Kemba Walker was expected to help elevate the team to another level, but they combine for just seven points against the worst team in basketball, showcasing their inconsistencies.
The question is, do the Knicks have a Julius Randle problem, or is it everybody around him?
Some might look at Randle and pinpoint his obvious negatives, including a massive decrease in three-point efficiency this season compared to last. He is hitting just 33% of his shots from deep this year, after hitting 41.1% during his All-Star campaign. While he has time to turn that number around, there’s a large enough sample size to make the assumption he’s taken a step back.
However, Randle’s shooting hasn’t been his only problem, defensive struggles have also bubbled to the surface. This year, he hosts a 111 defensive rating, including a -5.2 net rating. Last season, he sat at 106.8 and a +3.0 net rating.
Whether it be a change in mentality or problems with his teammates, the Knicks aren’t getting the value they paid Randle $117 million to provide. In the victory over Detroit, Randle was taken off the floor with three minutes remaining in the third quarter with his team down 66–52.
The Knicks proceeded to go 42–19 over the final 15 minutes of the game, showing that maybe Randle has a negative impact on the team at times. However, Tom Thibodeau confirmed that Randle was a bit nicked up in the losing effort, so a rest-day against Oklahoma City may be best for the veteran forward.
That excuse doesn’t justify the fact that Randle hosts the worst +/- on the team this year at -137. It is fair to give him the benefit of the doubt if he’s dealing with an injury that is holding him back from being his normal self, but his statistics up to this point tell a story of regression.
In the month of December, he’s shooting just 34.7% from range and 42.7% from the field. His November was even worse, meaning the Knicks may have to look for another star at the trade deadline to help bolster the team and their playoff hopes.[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”ncoij4xppt” question=”What do you think?” opened=”0″]Do you think Julius Randle has made a negative impact on the team this season? Comment here![/wpdiscuz-feedback]