Breakout Season on the Horizon for Julius Randle?
Julius Randle seemed to be the last person on any New York Knicks fan’s radar. Yet, the surprise signing signaled a trend for New York for the remainder of the offseason. James Dolan and the front office were determined to chase a large number of hard nose players as opposed to one or two All-stars. Arguably the most talented free agent that the Knicks picked up, Randle has shown constant improvement over the course of his career. The question is whether or not the league will see Randle have a break out season next year?
We’ve seen this before
When James Harden was given the keys to the Houston Rockets, he showed the league how scary he could be. Since then, he has earned himself an MVP and has led his team into the playoffs year after year. He is, without question, one of the best players in the NBA. D’Angelo Russell had a similar experience, to a lesser degree of course. After being traded to the Brooklyn Nets a season prior, Russell managed to squeeze Brooklyn into playoff contention. He helped facilitate the idea that Brooklyn could be a real destination for superstars, and it worked. The point of these two examples is that the Knicks wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel with Randle. Instead, they would be banking on his consistent development in hopes that he could have a break out season. However, the front office needs to keep in mind that Randle has never been in this kind of situation before.
New Season, New Situation
You can make the argument that Randle played like an All-Star last season. In a cleaning-house ordeal a little over a season ago, the Los Angeles Lakers shipped him off to the New Orleans Pelicans to run alongside Anthony Davis. In his one year with the team, Randle averaged a career best 21.4 points per game along with 8.7 rebounds. Ultimately the Pelicans failed to reach the playoffs, but not for lack of effort on his part. However, that was Anthony Davis’ team. Now, Randle is in the “Big Apple.” Given the young talent and newly signed free agents surrounding him, Randle will likely be the face of team for at least this next season. He will finally be in a situation where he can be the “man.”Given his trajectory these last few years, it’s not out of the question.
After his rookie season, Randle showed great potential. However, he has yet to show the full range of that potential. That of course is in recognition of the fact that he was never the number one option on his two previous teams. This is brand new territory for Randle, where he has the chance to show that he can lead the charge. Luckily, he won’t have to do it alone. The Knicks’ aren’t barren next season. The team will be deeper than it has been in years, which gives them the chance to do some damage. Add that to the fact that the bottom tier teams of the East are still sorting themselves out, and you have a chance to sneak into contention anywhere between the sixth seed and the eighth seed. Thus, the team has decent odds of having some success with Randle as its face.
So can he do it or not?
All things considering, it will be difficult to imagine the Knicks winning it all next year. That doesn’t mean, though, that they should be counted out of the playoff picture. Moreover, it would be unreasonable to think that Randle can’t be a leader for this team. If he has shown anything over the course of his career, it’s that he is focused on improving. More than that, he’s hungry. If anyone recognizes the position he’s in, it has to be him. Thus, it stands to reason that in a new city with new expectations, Randle is primed to have a big season. Only he can determine how far he will lead this team. Only he can determine how good he will be next season.
Randle wasn’t the star that Knicks fans hoped for, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad pick up by any stretch of the imagination. With his eye for improvement, Randle may come out and really lead the charge for the New York Knicks. Obviously, next season won’t be an easy one. Even still, fans shouldn’t count Randle and the Knicks out just yet.
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