Forward enjoys growth in 2020-21
Don’t look now but after two decades of questionable player moves, bad management and even worse basketball, the New York Knicks are about to make the playoffs.
Yes, the team that many picked to spend another season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings have quietly defied the experts and maintained a won-lost record around .500 – and leading the way is their All-Star power forward, Julius Randle.
In the 26-year-old product of Plano, Texas, the Knicks have a player in the midst of a career year, at this writing registering team-leading per-game averages of 23 points, 10.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Those are all major upticks from his career numbers of 16.8, 9.2 and 3.1. But another area in which he has sought improvement is maturity and leadership, and he credits his 4-year-old son with showing him the way.
Young Kyden watches his father intently during Knicks games and even imitates some of his on-court mannerisms when he plays against his dad. So when the boy flashed Dad’s “Are you kidding? No call?” look at his mother, who was refereeing during one pick-up game last season, that was all Julius needed to see. With a mirror held up, Randle didn’t like the reflection – and just like that an attitude adjustment was born.
As the No. 1 scoring option on a young Knicks team, Randle knows he’ll be in opponents’ crosshairs as the team seeks its first postseason appearance in eight seasons. And not only is he ready for it, he welcomes it – which is what a leader does.
Randle and the Knicks can be seen in action twice this week on ESPN: Sunday, April 18, hosting the New Orleans Pelicans and at home against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, April 24.
Full name: Julius Deion Randle
Birth date: Nov. 29, 1994
Height/weight: 6 feet, 8 inches/250 pounds
Teams: Los Angeles Lakers (2014-18); New Orleans Pelicans (2018-19); New York Knicks (2019-present)
College: Kentucky (entered the NBA Draft following his freshman year)
Draft: Taken in the first round (seventh overall) by the Lakers in 2014
Position: Power forward
Honors and achievements: NBA All Star (2021); SEC Rookie of the Year (2014); First-Team All-SEC (2014); McDonald’s All-American (2013)