The New York Knicks executed a dominant performance over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening, led by Julius Randle and his 44 points. Randle and his stoic nature have developed into not only a leader but a bonafide star at the NBA level. Heâ€™s averaging a career-high 23.6 points, 6.0 assists, 9.3 rebounds over 37.2 minutes. Pairing that with a career-high .410 3-PT percentage, and Randle is having himself one memorable season. It was his first All-Star appearance, and the Knicks would be in no man’s land without him.
However, we would be ignorant to forget his partner in crime, RJ Barrett, who has witnessed an unbelievable step forward and his progression this year. Averaging 17.3 points, 3.0 assists, and 5.7 total rebounds, those statistics barely scratch the surface of his impact. Not only is he a quality defender who plays aggressive basketball, but heâ€™s also averaging .448 from the field and .381 from beyond the arc, a .061 increase compared to his 2020 numbers.
With RJ, the Knicks would be struggling:
Barrett is the Robin to Randle’s Batman, executing at a high level and representing an efficient scorer on open threes, which Julius manages to curate frequently. In the victory over Dallas, Randle posted seven assists, as Barrett hit on 50% of his three-point attempts and logged 24 points. They combined for 68 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists, showcasing how well they are playing together.
Randle has one more year left on his deal, at $19.8 million, and the Knicks would be foolish to even consider letting him go ($4 million in dead money). Barrett, on the other hand, is only in his second year at 20 years old and has not only matured physically, but his basketball IQ has seen astronomical leaps.
This should be incredibly exciting for Knick fans who’ve been waiting for a star player to establish himself at MSG. Randle is doing just that, and Barrett is refining his abilities to fit Randle’s style of play perfectly, and if the Knicks can add a high-quality point guard to spread the ball around and score efficiently without rotating, they will be in great shape moving forward.
Currently, the Knicks have Derrick Rose, Elfrid Payton, and even Alec Berks rotating at point guard, but having one star would be a major step in the right direction. It is nice to see the Knicks taking positive steps forward in their growth, and it starts with mentality and coaching, which is something that time Thibodeau hit on after the win on Friday.
â€œI think we have a belief that we can win, and thatâ€™s probably the most important thing. It started that way in the beginning. It doesnâ€™t really matter what outside people think. Itâ€™s what we think.â€