This isn’t Julius Randle from two years ago. It’s more like Julius Randle 2.0.
He may have been producing similar numbers to that stellar season when the bruised striker and athlete led the Knicks to a surprising fourth place in the Eastern Conference, but he does so in a different way.
“The last two years he’s obviously had a great year and a big part of that was, I think, his shot,” coach Tom Tebodeau said on Tuesday after training. “It opened up a lot of things for him. But then I think the league was affected and I think now he realized what they were doing.”
Much of this change was a different attacking philosophy under Thibodeau based on speed and ball movement, and New point guard Galen Bronson arrives. It meant less isolation for Randle and a new focus on playing uptempo.
Randall rarely raises the ball and hits the ground. Instead, he gets transitional chances, shots by moving without the ball, and Bronson’s quick start took some of the defense’s focus off Randle. He sees fewer double teams and gets more open shots.
“His approach was completely different,” Derek Rose said. “The way he reads the word is completely different. His death was incredible, like getting to spots and not forcing shots and understanding that we’re trying to get a certain amount of 3. He finds bowlers.”
He’s also made notable tweaks, notably getting him to boot camp leaner and more willing to get up and get off the ground faster. Early in camp, Randle spoke of his enthusiasm for this new attacking philosophy and his collaboration with Bronson, and he backed that talk, producing 17 assists and only four turnovers in pre-season. In three regular season games, he averaged 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and just 1.7 turnovers.
“I’ll say this: Julius is a great athlete and I know by training against him that what you don’t want to see is Julius flying on the ground and attacking the edge and playing as fast as he plays,” Tibodo said. “You’d rather defend him with the ball. I think because of that, [since] He knows the different things he’s been through, he wants to play fast, and so I think that’s huge. He can help sell it to the rest of the team when he moves the way he does. It makes the whole team move that way.”
Late in Monday’s victory over the Magic was the Knicks’ biggest change on display. The 14-point lead was cut to six with 4:28 to the left in the fourth quarter. In years past, it’s been clear where the ball is headed – to Randle in solitude. Not in this case. Knicks ran into a high screen with Bronson, and this made Bronson’s leap where he also made a mistake that made the game snowy. The Knicks became less predictable.
“For [Jalen] “To take that pressure off me is tremendous,” Randall said. He generally added about his play: “I’m just trying to lose myself in the team. Rely on guys like [Brunson]RJ [Barrett]Just play for my team. The only important thing is to win.”
Bronson, an ego-deficient master bouncer known for delivering the right play, was a huge influence on Randle. The two began developing chemistry even before bootcamp, and both spent a lot of time in August and early September at the MSG Training Center. He appears. They’ve played well together, scoring a combined 30+ rating this season.
Bronson recently called up Randall and his other teammates to watch a big game between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Bronson’s roots for the Eagles and Randle are Cowboys fans. A recent press conference in which the two players participated ended with them asking who would win the NFC East. They both laughed and talked trash about each other’s team.
It seems the only thing the two superstars don’t see eye to eye are their favorite soccer teams.
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