Knicks

Randle Perfects Art of Patience

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One is not supposed to rush greatness.

We live in a world where we came to expect immediate results at an efficient rate. Everyone appreciates the grind until the most challenging part of the grind is inevitable: patience.

Life within the NBA moves fast. It’s the fastest moving league in sports. Superstars and stars switch teams every season, lottery teams become playoff teams overnight (and vice versa), and new players break out every year into stardom. With all of this noise around us, fans, media and pretty much everyone not on the hardwood forget that athletes work every day to get better.

We are spoiled with immediate young guns like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, LaMelo Ball, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum among plenty more. However, we forget becoming a force in the most competitive basketball league in the world takes time. 

Patience is Virtuous

The best example of unrushed greatness? Julius Randle.

Seven years is a long time. That is how long Randle has been in the league and how long it took him to reach all-stardom. He averages career highs at 23.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game on .41/.49/.79 shooting splits. Randle also helped the Knicks enter the playoff picture for the fourth time in the last ten years, with their most recent appearance in 2013. Thankfully, Julius has finally found a home in New York. 

On the Knicks’ game against the Magic on 3/18, four of New York’s five point guards were out. How did Julius respond? By winning the game, hitting clutch late-game buckets, and putting up a stat line of 18 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 17 assists. Julius and 17 assists is something you’d never think you’d be able to say in the same sentence. Yet, here we are. Time and time again, Randle does what needs to be done to get his team the win.

Humble Beginnings

Drafted seventh to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014, Randle missed his entire rookie season due to a broken leg in his first NBA game. Afterward, Randle was a decent starter for the Lakers. After leaving LA, he signed a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for a short, but viable stint. There, he displayed his potential.

Taking a Chance

After the Knicks flopped in free agency in 2019 by not signing big star free agents, New York took a chance on Randle. By signing a team-friendly deal that gave the Knicks a team option in his third year, Randle took a chance on himself too. 

After a disappointing 2019-2020 campaign, Randle and the Knicks only won 21 games in the 66-game season. After personnel changes in the offseason, Julius faced the most formidable challenge of his career since his horrid injury in 2014. How will he respond to mediocrity? 

A Fresh Start

As of March 22nd, the Knicks have 21 wins, just as many victories as last year in more than 20 fewer games. At the front charge of all of this success? Julius Randle.

The stats are a small testament of Julius’ improvement. Julius figured out how to be a No. 1 option on a winning basketball team. In the six seasons prior, Julius never played in a playoff game. With a relatively same roster as last year, Julius raised his level of play while winning basketball games in a city not used to team success.

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One is not supposed to rush greatness. In this league, the situation a player enters is everything. Six years with mediocre coaching, other players playing his position, and a poor supporting cast held Randle back. Most importantly, though, Randle found a home. He discovered a coach, an organization, a city and an infamous fan base where he can unleash his best self every other night. Being able to handle the pressure of being the top option in the biggest market in basketball is a challenging task.

Julius seems to be getting better, however, with every game.

Make-or-Miss League

One aspect of Randle’s game that has improved is his growth in clutch-time opportunities. In advanced clutch stats, his efficiency ranks higher than players like Bradley Beal, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Nikola Jokic. Randle has put himself amongst elite No. 1 options when in the clutch. He put this on display when the Knicks trailed by three to the Philadelphia 76ers. Hitting an incredibly difficult three to force overtime at Madison Square Garden, Julius manifested he will always be ready for the moment.

New York or Nowhere

Recently, in a Players Tribune letter, Randle said he wanted to be a Knick for life. When was the last time you heard that? An all-star player willingly saying they want to be a part of a franchise that has been labeled “toxic” for the remainder of his career? You can have the best player in the league, but if they do not believe in the team, and the squad does not believe in them, all that remains are two parties that will never reach the pinnacle.

Being able to commit to a dysfunctional team verbally says a lot. The pledge helps break the stigma of what the Knicks once were. With his breakout season capturing attention, a youth movement in MSG with the likes of Immanuel Quickley and R.J. Barrett, and a city hungry for success behind him, it’s Randle versus the world. I got my money on the man that has defied every expectation this season. 

Greatness takes time. Randle, Christian Wood, Jerami Grant, Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and a significant amount of other stars took a while to break out of their shell. The next time you write a player off for underperforming, remember these hoopers. 

Follow us on Twitter @KnicksLead for the latest Knicks news and insight. 

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About Matt DeCeglie

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