Despite the addition of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier, teams are still loading up on New York Knicks‘ All-Star Julius Randle.
They are testing his patience and maturity to determine whether he’s ready to lead a team with talent around him.
Randle has embraced being the Knicks’ central figure on offense. According to Cleaning The Glass, Randle leads the Knicks with a 28.9 usage rate in the 87th percentile. It’s just a slight drop to his 30.4 usage rate last season, which was in the 98th percentile.
Through seven games this season, Randle is tied for fifth with Giannis Antetokoumnpo in isolation points with 5.4 per game behind Spencer Dinwiddie (5.5), Kevin Durant (8.0), James Harden (8.3), and surprise leader Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (9.4). Randle is seventh in isolation possessions with 5.1 per game, and he’s shooting 46.2 percent, which is in the 64.6 percentile, per NBA advanced stats.
Last season, Randle averaged 5.0 isolation points on 5.5 possessions per game.
Old habits die hard. Randle is still struggling to give up isolation plays despite the Knicks adding more talent to ease his burden.
For the first time in his career, Randle is the No.1 option in a playoff-contending team. This is new to him, like it was last season when he led a so-so Knicks team to a surprising playoff run. He’s learning on the fly.
Derrick Rose had been there, done that.
Content as the sixth man of a deep New York Knicks team, Rose is happy to pass on some wisdom to Randle.
“Just play his game,” Rose said after Wednesday’s shootaround in Indianapolis before they take on the Pacers. “I feel like if he just goes out there and plays his game everything is going to be good. We know that weâ€™ve got more scoring on the team. Heâ€™s got to find ways to get lost. Right now theyâ€™re double-teaming from different spots on the court.”
In their recent loss to the Toronto Raptors, their downfall started with two consecutive Randle isolation plays that went awry after the Knicks built a 15-point lead. He followed that up with another two isolation plays where he got doubled, which led to turnovers and easy points for the Raptors.
Julius Randle is seventh in the league in isolation possessions with 5.1 per game, and he's shooting 46.2 percent, which is in the 64.6 percentile, per NBA advanced stats. His 4 iso plays that led to missed shots & turnovers in the 2nd qtr vs Raptors hastened their downfall. pic.twitter.com/7YUM0JQBUj
— alder almo (@alderalmo) November 3, 2021
“Thatâ€™s why weâ€™ve got Kemba and Evan on the floor with him so that when youâ€™ve got that type of person on that side of the ball, offensively, itâ€™s easy to just get lost,’ Rose said. “Being that No. 1 option you want that opportunity to get lost in the offense.”
It’s unsolicited advice that Randle should take because Rose is talking from his experience as the youngest MVP in the league, who led a young Chicago Bulls team to their best stretch in the post-Michael Jordan era.
“I played where I had to do everything, bring the ball up, set up the offense, score the ball, and if it was up to me, I wouldn’t want to do all that. But I was kind of forced to do it, so I had to figure it out,” Rose said.Â “Ju (Randle), he’s a great guy, and he’s all about figuring things out. So it’s about just letting him learn and letting him adjust, playing with three new starters.”
Randle’s ability to adapt to this new situation will tell how far this reloaded Knicks team can go.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo