Sometimes, all it takes is the right coach to unlock potential in players. For the New York Knicks, new head coach Tom Thibodeau has allowed Julius Randle to find his capabilities, and heâ€™s reaching new bounds this season after a disappointing 2020 campaign.
Randle most recently won the Eastern Conference player of the week award, averaging 35.8 points last week. His rise this year has played a significant part in the Knicksâ€™ overall success, as they are firmly saddled in the fifth seat after a dominant victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday evening.
Randle dominated the boards, picking up 10 rebounds and posting 16 points, in addition to seven assists. While his range from downtown wasnâ€™t efficient again, Charlotte, he found ways to make an impact, playing in 40 minutes and demanding attention from opposing defenders, opening up clean shots for players like Reggie Bullock, RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley.
Combined, the five players totaled 90 points out of the Knicksâ€™ total 109. It was a full team effort, and Randle continues to deflect questions regarding his play and how heâ€™s carrying the squad this year. In fact, he offered a perfect response to such claims, indicating that he has totally bought into Thibodeauâ€™s mindset and methodologies, which are tailored around the team playing as one and not individually.
â€œHonestly, itâ€™s really about the team,â€™â€™ Randle said Tuesday before the Knicks hosted the Hornets. â€œMe and Thibs will talk about it all the time. Thibs tells the team all the time: When a team does well, everybodyâ€™s value goes up. Weâ€™re playing well as a team. As a unit, guys are making me look good. Iâ€™m doing my best to try to help other guys out. Itâ€™s really just a tribute and an honor to our team, how well weâ€™re playing right now. Weâ€™ve just got to keep it going.â€
The Knicks are currently on a seven-game win streak, their longest in more than five years. They are a completely different team this season, and it is clear they are taking positive steps forward to attract star players in the near future. With Julius expecting to stay in New York over the long term, he only has one year left on his deal currently, and due to the collective bargaining agreement, President Leon Rose canâ€™t offer him a max contract.
Nonetheless, I expect the two sides to find common ground someway somehow. At the end of the day, without Randle, the Knicks are an entirely different team, but itâ€™s also the chemistry they have with one another that makes them so exciting to watch.