The New York Knicks have won three consecutive games and five of their last six to start 2022. However, you can thank third-year guard RJ Barrett for the team’s complete turnaround to open the new year, as Julius Randle has struggled in recent days, despite a solid outing against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
Barrett has been playing at another level, stringing together nine consecutive games with double-digit points and three successive with 26 points or more. In his last six games, Barrett has posted 30+ points in three of them, averaging 24.6 points per game in the month of January.
RJ is also contributing 3.3 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and shooting 48.7% from three-point range over 37 minutes. In fact, Barrett has played 41 minutes apiece over his last two games, as Tom Thibodeau has made him the team’s number one scoring option.
It is clear that Barrett is ready to take a step forward, given he can remain consistent for the remainder of the season. New York needed the Canadian-born player to take this stratospheric leap to above-average play.
However, his teammate, Julius Randle, has experienced the exact opposite to start the new year, averaging 18 points and shooting just 22.9% from three-point range and 41.3% from the field. While he is producing 11 rebounds per game and 5.3 assists, his scoring has been erratic, resulting in a transfer of responsibility to RJ.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Knicks “might not be as sold” on Randle after giving him a four-year, $117 million extension this past off-season. His outburst toward the fans and media did not sit well as the team made him apologize via social media.
While Randle is going through struggles at the moment, he is still an incredibly productive player. When Randle missed two games due to the NBA‘s health and safety protocols a few weeks ago, the Knicks were blown out in both by 15 points, with Obi Toppin picking up his starting minutes. Randle does a lot for the team that goes unnoticed, commanding attention and providing his teammates with better opportunities at the basket.
After his outburst, it is clear his confidence has taken a hit, but the best thing the fans can do is simply stand behind him and reinvigorate his play.
Against Atlanta, both Barrett and head coach Tom Thibodeau gave Julius a ton of credit, indicating that the Knicks’ chance of winning skyrockets when both he and RJ play at a high level.
“It’s great to see him have a monster game like that,’’ Barrett said of Randle, per Marc Berman of the NY Post. “When we both play well, we have a great chance to win.’’
“It’s great to see him have a monster game like that,’’ Barrett said of Randle. “When we both play well, we have a great chance to win.’’
The new addition of Cam Reddish also hopefully provides a bit of assistance and cushion off the bench.