Julius Randle’s disappearing act dooms Knicks in loss to Pelicans

knicks, julius randle

After Knicks‘ power forward Julius Randle tapped in a two point field goal with the clock expiring in the first half, he shouted an explicative toward the referee, drawing a technical foul that took place to start the second half.

The Knicks were outmatched entirely by the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, being out scored 102–91. Randle was out of sorts, complaining to the referees and missing shots at an incredible rate. He posted the worst +/- of the entire game at -26. He finished with just four points, and while he did pick up six assists in the process, the Knicks are never going to win games without his scoring production.

Randle has been a shell of his former All-Star-self, averaging an abysmal 31% from three point range and 19.1 points per game, down five compared to his 2020–21 campaign. The Knicks don’t stand a chance against more competitive teams without their star player elevating everyone around him, and now the club has strung together three consecutive losses — you better believe the front office will be looking for more talent at the deadline.

In recent days, New York has been linked to Dallas point guard Jalen Brunson after the acquisition of Cam Reddish. The reality is simple, Randle can’t handle the bright lights of New York and carry the team on his back.

However, it wasn’t just Julius who struggled against the Pelicans, the entire team looked tired and wayward. Mitchell Robinson had the best game out of the five starters, recording 17 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive. Every starter aside from Robinson posted a +/- of -20 or worse.

As a team, Tom Thibodeau‘s squad recorded a 23.7% rate from three point range and shot 37.7% from the field. To make matters even worse, they connected on just 66.7% of their free throws. Every starter for New Orleans posted double-digit points, including 18 from Jonas Valanciunas and 15 from Brandon Ingram.

Somehow, the Knicks need to find a way to reinvigorate their passion and flow, because they simply have no rhythm in their game. If the Knicks don’t make a big splash at the deadline, they may regress from last season and miss the playoffs when it’s all said and done.

Last 2 Minutes report: Refs miss 3 crucial calls in Knicks’ loss to Wolves

It turns out the three costly non-calls aided the Minnesota Timberwolves’ escape win over the New York Knicks, 112-110, Tuesday night at the Madison Square Garden.

The NBA’s Last 2 Minutes report cited three crucial plays wherein the veteran crew of Ed Malloy, Brian Forte, and Bennie Adams (combined 52 years of officiating experience in the league) failed to blow their whistle, putting the Knicks at a disadvantage.

The first one happened in the final 1:46 when the Timberwolves ganged up on Evan Fournier, who lost the ball. The turnover led to Jaden McDaniels’ free throw split, which enabled Minnesota to cut New York’s deficit to one, 109-108.

“Towns (MIN) makes contact to the arm of Fournier (NYK) on the perimeter,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

Then in the game’s pivotal play, Karl-Anthony Towns made a three-point play off a Julius Randle foul which gave the Timberwolves the lead, 111-109, with 29.3 seconds left. Towns committed an offensive foul on his way to the basket.

“Towns (MIN) reaches out and grabs Randle’s (NYK) arm and affects his ability to defend,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

Despite the two missed non-calls, the Knicks still had a chance to win. After Randle’s charity split made it 111-110, RJ Barrett stole the in-bound pass. But he lost his balance and the ball with 24.2 seconds left. The Timberwolves took control of the possession leading to a Patrick Beverley’s split at the line for the final score. D’Angelo Russell appeared to have pushed Barrett but escaped with a non-call.

“After the deflection, Russell (MIN) extends his forearm into Barrett (NYK) and dislodges him from his position during the loose ball,” per the Last 2 Minutes report.

It was a heartbreaking loss that became doubly painful for the Knicks fans after the Last 2 Minutes report came out on Wednesday. But the Knicks could have avoided had they put the clamps on Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell, who torched them with 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. It also didn’t help that the Knicks missed nine free throws.

“It was a hard-fought game. We didn’t get it done down the stretch,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said after the tough loss. “Sometimes, you have to adjust to how the game is being called. We had some tough calls [that went] against us. And we can’t just put ourselves in a position like that where the referees [becomes] a factor.”

They have a chance to lick their wounds on Thursday when they host the lowly New Orleans Pelicans, who are 13th in the West and have lost their last two games.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: RJ Barrett stock up, Julius Randle stock down to start new year

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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.

Could Knicks flip Cam Reddish for star player to pair with Julius Randle?

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The New York Knicks were heavily linked to the Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish earlier this week. The two sides finalized the deal to send Reddish to New York on Thursday afternoon, but his spot on the team is rather interesting. Reddish is known as a small forward, a position the Knicks don’t normally utilize in their rotation.

They primarily rely on power forwards Julius Randle and Obi Toppin, with Evan Fournier capable of playing the small. Small forwards are typically shorter and quicker than a power option, which could play into Tom Thibodeau’s strategy of driving to the basket and kicking out shots of the corners.

The small forward position is arguably the most versatile of all five main positions, which could give Reddish an advantage in specific lineup combinations. However, it is entirely possible the next view Cam as a trade piece for a bigger name like Myles Turner or Jerami Grant. They preferably don’t want to part ways with Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, or even Miles McBride, so adding Reddish to the mix gives them a bit of ammo other than draft capital.

With two years left on his rookie deal at a cost-efficient price point, Reddish is an extremely valuable piece other teams could be intrigued by. This season, Reddish has experienced a tremendous uptick in three-point efficiency, hitting 38% this year compared to 26% during the 2020–21 season.

With several weeks left until the trade deadline, the Knicks have plenty of time to continue curating potential deals and offering players with value. They managed to clear a roster spot by including Kevin Knox in the trade to Atlanta, acquiring Solomon Hill in addition to Reddish, the former Duke star.

Hill also features at the forward position but hasn’t made an impact this year over 13 games. He’s averaging less than a point per game in just 10.7 minutes. Given the Knicks’ plethora of forward talent, it’s safe to assume they will consider other deals.

With so many players on their rookie contracts and most of them enjoying positive development, their value is at an all-time high, so expect president Leon Rose to be on the hunt for a more established name that can give the Knicks a tremendous boost in the starting five.

One potential deal that could make sense for the Knicks is pairing Reddish with Mitchell Robinson for Myles Turner of Indiana. That could be an enticing grab for the Pacers who are rebuilding and trying to get Turner’s money off the books. Turner has also voiced his displeasure being a role player when he seeks a more prominent function on a given team.

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau comes to the defense of Julius Randle as he fends off hate

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When the New York Knicks were without power forward Julius Randle for two games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, they saw exactly how important he is to the team. The Knicks dropped both games to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors by 15 points, but they immediately started winning again once Randle returned with a vengeance as negativity brewed in the media.

Everything came to a peak when Randle was challenged after a buzzer-beater win from RJ Barrett against the Boston Celtics last Thursday. He cursed at the media and made negative gestures towards the fans mid-game, which has sparked a flurry of hate.

However, Randle is extremely important to the Knicks’ success, whether he’s scoring or not. Against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night, Randle contributed just two points with a 14.3% field goal percentage. He did record 12 rebounds and a +16 +/-.

Many attacked Randle for his poor offensive outing, but his impact was clear as a defender. The truth is, Julius draws so much attention that his teammates are given more efficient opportunities to attack the basket. That is a primary reason RJ Barrett has been so efficient recently, scoring 31 points in the victory over the Spurs.

Tom Thibodeau comes to Julius Randle’s defense after a two-point outing against the Spurs on Monday:

Julius made some good reads. They were doing a lot of switching and coming from the baseline. When he sprays the ball out like that, good things, we are going to get good shots from that. Guys getting to their spots, that’s important for him so he has the outlets.

I just want him to play the game. The type of attention he is going to get because of who he is, look, if he gets the ball and there is a commitment they’re overloading to the strong side, right? They’re coming from the baseline. I want him to make the right play, I don’t want him to fight pressure with pressure. I don’t want him to try to split things, I just want him to hit the open man because we can play off that.

Randle has found himself getting caught up in madness with the fans and media, which is a losing recipe. When the veteran PF plays with energy and confidence, he is a dominant player worthy of the $117 million contract extension he signed this past off-season.

Based on the flow of his production in line with his confidence and mental state, you can see a clear correlation. Randle needs to prove his quality with action and not fire back at the crowd after a good performance. He attempted to apologize after the NBA fined him $25K for his transgressions, but the fans clearly wanted to showcase their frustration, offering minimal cheer as his name was called out at MSG prior to Monday’s game.

The best thing Randle can do at this point is to stay quiet and regain the trust and affection of the fans. His next opportunity will come against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 PM.

Toppin for Turner? What a Knicks-Pacers deal could look like

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With one month to go before the February 10 trade deadline, the New York Knicks have been linked to Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner and Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Between the two, Turner is the more intriguing option.

In theory, Turner is the prototypical modern big man that the Knicks need to open up the defense for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett.

The ugly loss in Boston over the weekend exposed the Knicks’ weakness of not having a floor-spacing big man next to Randle. While Mitchell Robinson had a perfect night at the field, shooting 5 of 5 for 11 points and eight rebounds, he doesn’t possess a deep offensive bag which Turner has at this point of their careers.

The Knicks fell apart starting in the latter part of the second quarter. The Celtics’ swarming defense with the shot-blocking monster Robert Williams as their last line took away the Knicks’ driving lanes to generate shots at the rim and kick-out passes.

“They’re long and athletic,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Celtics. “In the first half, we drove the ball and made the right rim reads. It was better, and we got easy shots. But if you hold on to [the ball] and you try to shoot over the sides, and you’re putting up tough shots, you’re not going to win that way.”

The Celtics employed four players with at least 6’11 wingspan to disrupt the Knicks’ offense — Robert Williams – 7’6, Al Horford – 7’1, Jaylen Brown – 7’0, and Jayson Tatum – 6’11.

A center like Turner, a 36-percent three-point shooter and has the third-most three-pointers (61) among centers this season, could have helped pull Williams away from the paint. On defense, Turner is on pace to lead the league in shot blocks (2.9 per game this season) for the third time in his career.

Theoretically, Turner would fit seamlessly next to Randle, forming a formidable inside-outside tandem in the Knicks’ frontline. On top of this, they already have an existing bond working out together under trainer Tyler Relph as the trio are all from Dallas.

So, it’s not surprising the Knicks are interested in Turner. But what’s the price of prying Turner away from Indiana?

In December, ESPN’s Zach Lowe discussed the best recent comparison for a potential Turner trade on his podcast with NBA front office insider Bobby Marks.

“The comp I’m trying to make is Nikola Vucevic,” Lowe said referencing last season’s Orlando-Chicago trade deadline deal. “The Magic got Wendell Carter Jr., who has been maybe better than Vucevic this season, two first-round picks, one of which you were sure would be a decent lottery pick (Franz Wagner) and no long-term money. That’s the comp.”

Based on Lowe’s parameters, Nat Newell of Indy Starproposed a Turner trade to the Knicks in exchange for Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, and a future first-round pick.

“Toppin has had a solid second season — 8.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 53% in 15.9 minutes per game — but this trade likely comes down to the protections on the pick. The Knicks have struggled this season (12-15) so an unprotected pick could easily put you in the lottery but will the Knicks offer that? Toppin hasn’t shown 3-point range (26.7% in his career), making him less of a fit next to Sabonis. The Knicks have extra picks from Charlotte (lottery protected) and Dallas (top 10 protected) that could be included or the Pacers could demand Immanuel Quickley (9.6 ppg, 2.5 apg, 32.8% on 3s),” Newell wrote.

Of the four teams, only the Knicks have the deepest chest of draft assets to entice the Pacers to break up their core and rebuild.

While Turner is not a clear-cut superstar, he is only 25 years old and represents an immediate upgrade at the center position. A Turner trade will not instantly catapult the Knicks to the upper echelon in the East. But it would help Randle and Barrett unlock their offense and boost the Knicks’ chances of becoming a perennial playoff contender, which is the new front office’s plan to entice superstars to come to New York.

If it doesn’t pan out, Turner, at the very least, could serve as another trade piece in a package for a coveted star.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks’ Julius Randle’s apology not enough as NBA fines him $25,000

New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle issued a public apology for his profane-laden postgame comment about the fans. But it was not enough as the NBA fined him $25,000, the league announced on Saturday.

Randle made a thumbs-down gesture at the height of the Knicks’ run in their 108-105 comeback win against the Boston Celtics Thursday night. He doubled down in the postgame interview, saying it was meant to silence the fans who booed them when they trailed by as many as 25 points.

It was the second time Randle used profanity in his interview. After Wednesday’s practice, ahead of their home against Boston, Randle was asked about the fans’ criticisms he’s been receiving.

“Really don’t give a f–k what anybody has to say, to be honest. I’m out there playing. Nobody knows the game out there better than I do, compared to what everybody has to say. So I really don’t give a s–t. I just go out there and play,” Randle responded.

The NBA found Randle’s profanity-laden comments ‘egregious.’

In his public apology posted on his Instagram, Randle explained that his ‘comment was an example of how sometimes you say things you regret to people you love.’

The criticisms and boos have seemed to light up a fire under Randle’s belly. Since his return from the health and safety protocols, Randle has averaged 26.0 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, 12.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 steals as the Knicks won two straight games.

Randle averages 19.6 points on 42 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from deep, 10.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists for the season. Those numbers are down from his All-NBA season averages of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists while shooting 46 percent from the field and 41 percent from the three-point zone.

Randle and the Knicks are eyeing a third straight win Saturday night on the road against the Celtics to get back to .500, on the pace from their last season’s surprising playoff run.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks fans’ boos, criticisms light up fire under Julius Randle’s belly

NBA stars love to play in Madison Square Garden because the New York Knicks fans bring out the best in them. They relish silencing the crowd.

Ask Trae Young.

Knicks’ All-Star Julius Randle had his love-hate relationship with the New York fans since his arrival as the consolation of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes in the summer of 2019.

Just as when he thought he’s become the city’s new conquering hero after an All-NBA year and carrying them back to the playoffs in a strange season, Randle is back to ground zero.

A sloppy start to this season has earned him the ire of the seemingly impatient fanbase. There was some celebration from some quarters when he tested positive COVID-19, much to his consternation.

Since his return from the health and safety protocols, Randle’s interviews were reduced to expletive-filled clipped comments.

It became his crusade to ‘shut the f–ck up’ his critics.

It spilled over to Thursday night’s game against the Boston Celtics. He heard boos from the crowd when they trailed by as many as 25 points.

The heated exchange with the crowd could be worrying to some but not to Evan Fournier, who had his fair share of harsh criticisms from the fans.

“He puts emotion into everything he does,” said Fournier reflecting on the short time he’s got to know Randle. “He probably wasn’t happy about [the booing]. Honestly, no big deal. If I were him, playing hard as hell and [playing] well … when you give everything you have into something and you give so much into something and it doesn’t work out or you’re being called out, it’s frustrating.

“But it’s the business we’re in. And Julius is the image of the franchise. He’s the star player, so of course, he’s going to get more criticism. And I think he understands that.”

Lately, Randle’s candor and demeanor may look petty, but he’s feeding off the hate and doubts and channels that frustration into motivation. Like his mentor, the late Kobe Bryant, Randle seems to play better when he’s mad.

Randle has been playing on fumes in the Knicks’ twin wins over Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, averaging 26.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 3.0 assists against only 1.5 turnovers. While his three-point shooting (26.7 percent) is still a work in progress, his change in approach — attacking the rim more and setting hard screens — had made him more efficient on offense. And on defense, too. The poor body language and lifeless jogs on the floor have turned into diving for loose balls and crashing the paint with more fervor.

While Evan Fournier (career-high 41 points and franchise record-tying 10 triples) and RJ Barrett (buzzer-beating game-winner) emerged as the heroes of Thursday night’s epic 108-105 win over the Celtics, Randle served as the catalyst of the Knicks’ third-quarter surge, which set up the dramatic finish. He unloaded 10 of his 22 points in that pivotal quarter that turned the chorus of boos into cheers leading to the chaos that rattled the Celtics in crunch time.

Randle’s thumbs-down gesture was unwarranted. But he’s relishing his new villain role to motivate himself whether he admits it or not.

Some may say he waged a war that he couldn’t win. But it’s not just a war with the fans. It’s a war against the doubts that robbed him of his All-Star form.

Some fans made it personal. Randle took it personally. And so far, he’s walking the talk. Because he knows there’s only one way to win this war.

By embracing the villain role on the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden that made visiting players play their best, Randle essentially accepted the challenge.

Win or shut the f–ck up!

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks’ Julius Randle has hostile message for the haters

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The New York Knicks might’ve emerged victorious against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, but power forward Julius Randle had a message to send to the fans after they’ve hurled insults at him for the better part of the season.

Randle has struggled after having an All-Star campaign in 2020 — some might say he’s regressed to the mean, but he is still the Knicks’ leading scorer with 19.6 points per game. In addition, he’s contributing 10.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists, which are significant numbers the team felt during his absence against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors.

After the team’s 25 point come-back win over Boston, a reporter asked Randle about the Knicks being outplayed despite the win, in which he responded maliciously:

“Shut the f— up,” Randle said with frustration coursing through his voice.

Julius finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. He shot just 25% from three-point range but connected on 40% from the field. The veteran forward had a few clutch shots down the stretch, helping give the Knicks a slim lead late in the fourth quarter.

Nonetheless, his statistical production has been inconsistent this year, hitting just 32.7% of the shots from deep compared to 40% last year before he signed a four-year, $117 million contract extension.

While Randle may indicate he ignores the outside pressure, his outburst was clearly targeted at the haters who have been attacking him for a myriad of reasons.

“I really don’t give a fuck what anybody has to say, to be honest,” Randle said to reporters, via Fred Katz of The Athletic. “I’m out there playing. Nobody knows the game out there better than I do, compared to what everybody has to say. So, I really don’t give a shit. I just go out there and play.”

Head coach Tom Thibodeau backed up his star player, stating:

“Everyone thinks the backup should start until he has to start.”

During Randle’s bout with Covid, Obi Toppin stepped in to soften the blow, contributing a career-high 19 points against Toronto, but he has scored a combined two points over the last two games, playing just 19 minutes in total.

It is clear that Randle has shown he’s the team’s primary leader, indicated by the Knicks winning back-to-back games since his return. However, you don’t want to see your star player attacking the media and failing to accept criticism in a market that seeks out vulnerable players.

Randle seems to be fully healed from his nicks and nacks, which Thibodeau mentioned several weeks ago as a potential reason for his feeble performances. During the fourth quarter against Boston, though, he unleashed a mysterious thumbs-down motion after making an impressive basket beneath the rim with defenders crowding him. At first glance, it seemed to be a big statement toward the fans who have been quite hostile toward his services this season.

What do you think about Randle’s comments? Let us know here!

Knicks’ Batman and Robin can propel them to the postseason

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Prior to the New York Knicks’ victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, they had been experiencing somewhat of a funk. With players coming in and out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, establishing consistency became a complex problem.

Losing power forward Julius Randle for two games provided the Knicks with a wake-up call, and likely their fans as well, who’ve been calling for Randle’s head prior to his absence.

During that two-game stretch, the Knicks were outmatched entirely, losing both games by 15 points and showcasing a little resilience with Obi Toppin taking over Randle’s minutes. Toppin performed well against Toronto, tying a career-high 19 points, but he’s a far lesser player than Randle, who showcased his brilliance against the Pacers to stifle a two-game losing streak.

After the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau raved about Julius’s return, posting 30 points and 16 rebounds over 39 minutes. Storming back from a positive Covid test in just a few days was remarkable.

“For Julius to do what he did today is just remarkable. To come out of health and safety protocols, travel and play. We had no idea what he was gonna be like. Unbelievable effort.” – Via Fred Katz of The Athletic

Randle’s vengeful return was like the end of a storybook when the hero arrives at the final moments to save the day and overwhelm the opponent with heart and energy.

However, Randle couldn’t overwhelm Indiana alone, as the Robin to his Batman stepped up to the plate and performed at a high level. RJ Barrett, who has been struggling this season, recorded 32 points on 40% shooting from three-point range, adding eight rebounds and three assists to his mark.

“I definitely feel like I’m capable…hopefully once we get back and rolling, this is what to expect from us,” Barrett said after the game.

The Knicks ended up winning by double digits against the Pacers, displaying consistency and energy throughout. Barrett scored 17 points in the first quarter alone, finishing with a game-high in points.

New York desperately needs Barrett and Randle to become their lethal pairing. They can boost this team and push them to the postseason, as their teammates will revere their work ethic and production.

It all boils down to consistency, though, and if they can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. RJ was expected to take a big year three jump after a successful sophomore campaign during Randle’s All-Star performance.

RJ is shooting just 32.9% from three-point range this season, despite hitting over 40% last year. He’s enjoyed multiple games this season with 30 points or more, but if he can do that on a more consistent basis, his stock will elevate tremendously. It is no surprise to see Randle and Barrett dominating when both are hot with the ball in their hands.