The Knicks are going nowhere fast if All-Star power forward doesn’t step up

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against Washington Wizards forward Danilo Gallinari (88) and guard Jordan Poole (13) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It has not been the start to the season that New York Knicks power forward Julius Randle envisioned having, and his struggles have been a main contributing factor to the team’s 2-4 start to the season.

Julius Randle is continuing to struggle

In Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Randle scored just 16 points and shot 5-20 from the field. On the season, he is shooting just 27% from the field and 22% from three. He spoke about his very slow start to the season after the game Friday.

“I’m just not in rhythm,” said Randle via The Athletic’s Fred Katz. “Not in rhythm, everything just seems a little bit off, you just start pressing a little bit, but like I said, I’ve just gotta stay with it. Keep working.”

Is Randle’s ankle still holding him back?

The 28-year-old all-star underwent ankle surgery in the offseason, but questions about his health were mostly swept under the rug after appearing to be healthy throughout training camp and the preseason.

While his health is still not a concern, there have been multiple instances through the team’s first six games where Randle’s effort level could be questioned, as he did not appear to be playing at full speed.

It is premature to assume that he is not trying or playing unhealthily, but regardless, he has to perform better if the Knicks want to succeed.

The Knicks need Randle to step up

Since the start of the postseason last year, Randle is averaging 15.5 points and is shooting 33% from the field and 24% from three, a massive drop off from when he averaged 25 points while shooting 46% from the field and 34% from three during the regular season last year.

Friday night, Jalen Brunson virtually carried the Knicks with his 45-point performance, and his efforts nearly gave the Knicks a win. He needs Randle to step up and perform at a high level to make the Knicks a formidable foe in the Eastern Conference.

Randle will have his next chance to bounce back from his treacherous start when he and the Knicks take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on Monday, where James Harden is expected to make his Clippers debut.

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