The New York Knicks have been indebted to the displays of Julius Randle for much of the current season, and he could be the key to just how far the Madison Square Garden side can go this season.
Last season the Knicks made it to the postseason for the first time since 2013, and Randle walked away with the Most Improved Player award, which is something of a poisoned chalice, to say the least. The display of the 26-year-old in the Knicks recent over the Philadelphia 76ers is testament to just what he is capable of delivering.
Tom Thibodeau’s side sits in the second spot in the Atlantic Division, their 7-4 record put them just behind the 76ers, and the New York Knicks NBA odds now show them at (+10000) to complete an unlikely NBA title season. However, (+4000) on winning the Eastern Conference may be a more reasonable option to consider if you are a sports betting enthusiast.
Randle was handed a four-year deal with the Knicks in August, worth a reported $117m, and is a key part of the Knicks short and long-term plans.
When he signed that deal, the former Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans man did so with a view to turning things around for the team:
“The money was one thing, but for me, it was more about the situation as far as my happiness, the basketball situation, my family, just being stable and being in New York and really just continuing to build this thing up,” Randle stated.
“When I signed here two years ago, this was my vision, to be able to lock in something long term and build something from the ground up. That’s what we’re doing. All hands on deck.”
And he’s subsequently been looking to the veterans in the Knicks set-up for guidance and direction, with former NBA MVP Derrick Rose being chief among them.
Following a run of three home defeats, Randle discussed matters with his teammate:
“I had a long talk with Derrick [Rose] after the game because I’m an introverted person too,
“I’m kind of like lead by example, my actions and stuff like that,” Randle said. “And he’s telling me how it took him a long time to figure it out.”
Having played a key part in what might well be a season-defining win over Philadelphia, Randle commented:
“It’s just getting out of your comfort zone, growing as a person, as a leader,” Randle said. “The next step for me is just being a little bit more vocal with my teammates, talking, and making sure we’re staying together and telling each other what we see out there.”
And indeed, this all looks positive from a Knicks perspective. Randle is growing into more of a team player and a player with a voice.
Just the type of talent that Thibodeau can build things around for this and the coming seasons.
Featured Image: NBA.com Canada