Randle, speaking for the first time since the draft, believes Toppin will fit right next to him.
“He’s an athletic player, from what I know. I haven’t seen much of him. But he can shoot it and run the floor. So I think we’ll be able to complement each other well,” Randle said during his zoom call with reporters on Friday.
“The game is positionless now. To have many guys to be versatile and do many things is great.”
With the way the NBA has evolving, there’s a chance we can see Randle and Toppin play together if Tom Thibodeau rolls with a small-ball lineup at times.
“Thatâ€™ll be up to coach [Thibodeau]. Iâ€™ve played the five before, though,” said Randle.
This is nothing new for Randle, who has faced a logjam at his position last season and even in New Orleans before moving to New York.
Toppin is more dynamic. But Randle is the better leader at this point.
Thibodeau heaped praise on Randle’s leadership and professionalism during the team’s OTA last September. With the Knicks remaining as one of the youngest teams, if not the youngest in the league, Randle will be counted on to provide veteran leadership anew.
“For me, it’s about putting others before me. And try to make everybody else better. That’s the biggest thing for me. Just to learn how to make people better, have a plan,” Randle said.
Randle said he used the long break to tweak his game better in his hometown, Dallas. After his efficiency dropped last season when he was thrust into the lead role, Randle is looking forward to being held accountable by Thibodeau and the new coaching staff.
Randle led the team in points (19.5) and rebounds (9.7) but only shot 46 percent from the field and 27 percent from beyond the arc. Before he came to New York, he shot 52.4 percent overall and hit 34 percent of his threes.
With the Knicks signing and drafting players who can shoot, the spacing won’t be a problem this season. It’s going to be another big adjustment for the holdovers, especially for Randle, if Thibodeau decides to feature Toppin more this season.
“Itâ€™s an adjustment anywhere you go,” he said. “I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s New York or anywhere else, but you learn every year. I talked to coach [Thibodeau], and the minute you stop learning, you stop playing. I donâ€™t care if itâ€™s New Orleans or Los Angeles. I learn something every year regardless,” Randle said.
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