Julius Randle deserves to be an All-Star. That is not a sentence New York Knicks fans thought they would agree with when the Kentucky alum signed with the team prior to the 2019-20 season. He was rather unspectacular his first season in New York, but he has taken his game to a whole new level in his second year.
The stats speak for themselves. As of Feb. 20, he is averaging 23.2 points per game, 10.9 rebounds per game, 5.5 assists per game, and is shooting 48 percent from the field, including 40.7 percent from beyond the arch. Those stats look even better when you compare them to high-profile players.
He is averaging more points than Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Russell Westbrook. He is averaging more rebounds than Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, and Bam Adebayo. He is averaging more assists than Jrue Holiday, Donovan Mitchell, and Kevin Durant. His 3-point percentage is better than Damian Lillard, Buddy Hield, James Harden, and Chris Paul.
The Knicks have had a strong season, at least by their standards, and Randle has been the focal point on offense for a team that looks poised to make the playoffs for the first time in eight years. While he was also the team’s biggest scoring threat last season, especially after Marcus Morris was traded, he has expanded upon that role this year. He has been acting as a point forward, commanding an offense full of young players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin.
Yes, the Knicks rank dead last in the NBA in scoring and Randle hasn’t been a key contributor to the team’s main culprit for success, Tom Thibodeau’s well-coached defense, which ranks first in the league. But the fact that the Knicks are averaging only 85.8 field goal attempts per game, the second-fewest in the NBA, makes Randle’s scoring prowess even more impressive.
There’s also the fact that Randle has been particularly hot as of late, averaging 28.8 points and 10.8 rebounds over his last four games, shooting 56.3 percent, including 52 percent on 3-point attempts, during that span. This run includes a 44-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks in which he went 14-for-22 from the floor, including 7-for-13 from beyond the arch.
The All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 23. If Randle is not one of the seven reserves coming out of the Eastern Conference, the only reason will be that he got completely snubbed.