On “Stephen A’s World,” Stephen A. Smith talked about how last year's Most Improved Player has struggled at home at Madison Square Garden. Smith, a Knicks fan, said that is a big part of the Knicks' struggles.
Last season, the Knicks (41-31) made the playoffs with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. They ended a seven-year playoff drought behind Randle’s All-Star and All-NBA season.
This season, the Knicks (28-38 entering Friday's game at the Memphis Grizzlies) are in 12th place in the East. They look like they will miss out on the playoffs and not even get close to the play-in tournament.
The Atlanta Hawks' first-round playoff win over the Knicks last season might have provided the template on how to guard Randle.
In a new segment called “What Went Wrong,” Smith tried to answer what went wrong with the Knicks and Randle:
“Whenever he shows up at the Garden, that’s when things go wrong. When he is in front of that home crowd, and they are demanding things from him, and they are heckling him, he can’t seem to take it from the New York fanbase. His skin is a little thin when he is in New York City. When he is on the road, it’s a different ball game.”
Randle has had trouble with New York Knicks fans over the season, including giving the thumbs down to Knicks fans in the Garden. That has created some tension between the fans and Randle. With Randle not playing as well as he did last season, it has brought up a lot of questions.
Is Julius Randle better statistically on the road?
Compared to last season, Julius Randle is pretty much down in every single statistic. His scoring, assists and rebounds are lower than last season, along with a worse shooting percentage.
Last season, Randle averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 45.6%. This season, he's averaging 20.1 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 5.2 apg while shooting 41.9%.
Smith argued that one of the biggest reasons for the Knicks' struggles this season is that Randle has played better on the road than at home. However, Randle’s stats at home and on the road are similar.
Randle is averaging 19.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 5.3 apg at home, compared to 20.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 5.0 apg on the road. The shooting percentage is similar, shooting 41% overall and 31% from 3-point range at home, compared to 42% and 31% on the road.
It's unfair to say the Knicks have struggled because Randle is playing worse at home because he can’t handle the pressure at home. Randle just hasn’t been as good overall this season, at home or on the road, and has taken a step back.