Julius Randle is having a career-best season with the New York Knicks and is leading the race to win the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Season award. In only his second season with the Knicks, Randle is leading the team's charge to make the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Julius Randle was selected seventh overall by the LA Lakers in the 2014 draft. However, he did not make the best start to his career in the NBA. He endured a season-ending injury within 14 minutes of his debut game and had to wait until his sophomore campaign to show what he was capable of.
Julius Randle played three full seasons for the Lakers and improved his performances significantly with each passing year. He averaged 11 points in his first season, 13 the following campaign, and 16 in his last year on the team. The New York Knicks talisman went on to sign a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans after his rookie deal with the Lakers expired.
Randle played one season with the team and flourished with 21 points per game this campaign. After declining his player option in the second year, he signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent. He has been the best player on the team for two seasons running.
Role with the New York Knicks
Julius Randle is a leader on the New York Knicks team. He is their primary scorer and offensive anchor. He plays as a power forward and is leading the team in points, assists and rebounds so far. He is also averaging the most minutes per game, having played 58 out of the 59 games the New York Knicks have been a part of so far this season.
Julius Randle's efficiency as an all-round player makes him the team's MVP, as he can contribute in several ways. The 6'8 forward has strength and size on his side and guard-like ball-handling skills, which allow him to score and create opportunities for his teammates. He also uses his size to claim rebounds with great efficiency.
Season so far
Julius Randle is having the best season of his career so far. He is averaging a career-high in points (23.7), rebounds (10.5) and assists (6.1) per game. He is also the team leader of the New York Knicks. Randle made his All-Star game debut this year and represented Team Durant during the event.
Julius Randle has improved his game in multiple ways; from his shooting and playmaking to his defensive abilities. These reasons make him the favorite to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Randle's performances have helped make the New York Knicks a solid playoff contender, leading them to a 33-27 season record and 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.
If Randle and the New York Knicks keep up their performances until the end of the regular season, they could gain home-court advantage in the post-season.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Julius Randle is one of the most well-conditioned players in terms of his physicality in the NBA. His size, speed and great stamina have helped him massively this season, making him a reliable leader for the New York Knicks. Randle can guard and attack multiple positions due to his skills and natural ability.
His athleticism allows him to cover space and rebound the ball with great efficiency. His improvements in shooting have helped him add more fire-power to his arsenal on the offensive end. He is attempting a career-high 5.2 threes per game, converting 40% of those attempts (also a career-high), which is quite remarkable for someone who plays at the 4.
There are a few major weaknesses left in Julius Randle's game. Defense is something he can be much better at moving forward. He has made improvements this season while working closely with Tom Thibodeau at the New York Knicks, but is averaging just 0.3 blocks per contest. For someone with his size and athletic ability, he can be more effective in this area of his game.
Expectations from Julius Randle moving forward
Julius Randle seems to be on the right track in terms of his career trajectory at the moment. As a player about to hit the prime years of his career, Randle has made the improvements needed to succeed as a leader on one of the league's most popular teams.
He made his All-Star debut this season and is expected to deliver at a consistent level from here on. This season's goal will be to lead the New York Knicks as far as possible in the postseason. In the years to come, he is expected to become a focal point in turning the Knicks into legitimate championship contenders.
Considering the way he has blossomed under Tom Thibodeau in the two seasons he has spent with the New York Knicks, it would be fair to say Randle is likely to succeed and become one of the best players in the NBA.