Julius Randle last season was absolutely incredible, shocking everyone with his performance across the season. Randle gained his first NBA All-Star spot, played in all but one game, made the All-NBA second team, had eight Most Valuable Player votes, and even won the Most Improved Player award. Everyone expected the same or more from Julius Randle, but the opposite has happened. Julius brought the Knicks to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, and now him and the Knicks are the twelfth seed and sitting at 13-17, looking like they’ll miss the playoffs completely. The biggest question is: was Julius Randle’s 2020-2021 season a fluke?
In short, yes. Julius has played in all thirty games this season for the Knicks, and has not come close to his last season totals. The only stat Julius Randle is really doing good in would be his blocks per game, having his best career average so far. Besides that, Randle is having a career low year in field goal percentage, having a much worse three-point shooting year compared to last year, and is averaging less rebounds, assists, steals and averaging almost five points per game worse than last year.
So why is this happening? The Knicks have more or less kept the same team or added more talent, not losing much from last seasons team. The Kemba Walker experiment may have failed, but Julius never had a standout point guard last season either. Derrick Rose is having a worse season that last year, but that is expected from a thirty-three year old veteran point guard. RJ Barrett is also having his worst year of his career thus far, not living up to expectations in the slightest. The Knicks were supposed to be a dominant force, but now they look like a sailboat with no wind: lost.
Can we blame all of this on Julius Randle? Well, no. Julius Randle may be having a bad year after his career best, but the Knicks are also not doing good. While Julius Randle is and should be the focal point of the team, his shortcomings shouldn’t result in them failing all expectations and looking like a lottery team again. I think the best decision would be to just play out the season with Julius. If the Knicks had traded him in 2019-2020 and he had blossomed like he did, the Knicks would’ve pulled a signature Knicks move. I think the best move is if he keeps having a low season, but is still playing at a star role, trade him before the draft. The Knicks will be in the lottery unless something crazy happens like their win streak last year, but it will be a late lottery pick. If they package someone like Julius Randle, their pick, a future pick and maybe a player like Kevin Knox or even Mitchell Robinson, it could be a blockbuster trade that could get us in to the top-five of the lottery. If Julius Randle can’t turn it around, his days in the orange and blue are numbered, and career on the Knicks would be the most Knicks thing ever. Expectations that can not be fulfilled.