Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau comes to Julius Randle’s defense after team suffers 2nd straight blowout

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Despite the inconsistencies, shooting woes, defensive lapses, the New York Knicks are an entirely different team without star power forward Julius Randle.

When the Knicks offered Randle a four-year, $117 million extension, they expected him not just to be a star but a superstar. However, Randle has witnessed several statistical categories take a turn for the worse this season, watching his three-point percentage drop to 32.8% after recording a 41.1% success rate during the 2020–21 season.

He’s attempting precisely the same number of three-point shots (5.5) this year as he did last, but whether it be a lack of confidence or form, he simply isn’t hitting them at the same rate. In addition, his field-goal percentage has dropped 4%, and he’s averaging one fewer assist per game.

Defensively, Randle hosts a 111.1 defensive rating and -6.3 net rating. His assist/turnover ratio has dropped considerably, and his estimated field-goal percentage has taken a turn for the worse.

Despite all of those negative outputs and numbers, the Knicks sorely miss their quiet leader. Randle isn’t known for being outspoken and forthright, but he leads by example and commands so much attention that his teammates are able to capitalize.

“That’s the day and age of social media. That’s why you don’t pay attention to it. It doesn’t matter. …It’s like the backup quarterback. Everybody thinks he should start until he starts,” Thibs said, via Stefan Bondy of the Daily News

On Sunday afternoon, the Knicks were completely embarrassed by the Toronto Raptors, a sub .500 team who has struggled this year to pick up wins. They lost by 15 points, allowing Fred VanVleet to post 35 points and the team to hit 38.2% of their shots from range. They were outrebounded 44–30 and committed 17 turnovers.

The Knicks severely lacked his physical presence inside, with Randle averaging nearly double-digit rebounds per game. Fans and analysts alike have been crushing Randle for his regression this season, but his impact has been on full display as he stays away from the team due to Covid protocols.

According to head coach Tom Thibodeau, it is also fair to mention that Julius has been dealing with a few nicks. Injuries could have been holding him back from exerting maximum energy and effort, but hopefully, a few days off will provide him an opportunity to rehabilitate and come back stronger.

In fact, the Knicks can’t get him back soon enough, but it could be several more games before their best player returns to the lineup. New York will take on the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM, and having lost their last three games, this is a winnable game for New York.

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