Although Julius Randle has run into injuries over the past few seasons, he is still a crucial factor in the Knicks’ success going forward.

Summer is here. Naturally, NBA offseason talks are all over social media right now.

The New York Knicks have already made their bed with their busy 2024 NBA Draft, landing Mikal Bridges in a blockbuster trade and losing Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s also not forget OG Anunoby re-signing for five years on a major $212.5 million deal. Aside from that, what about our power forward? As a frequent social media user myself, I’ve scrolled past some pretty interesting trade packages made by Knicks fans that include Julius Randle.

This isn’t the first time Randle has been involved in trade discussions. Look no further than the 2022-23 season, when Randle unfortunately suffered a sprained ankle near the end of the regular season and then re-injured himself in Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Knicks successfully clinched a playoff series win. This was coupled with a no appearance from the power forward himself in Game 1 against the Miami Heat before the Knicks made their exit altogether in Game 6.

However, despite working hard all summer long, fans grew wry that the 6-foot-8 beast might have lost his touch due to struggling immensely at the beginning of the 2023-24 season. I felt like this was rather a hasty overreaction. It is normal to not get back up to your typical, standard speed right away after undergoing a terrible injury, much less surgery on your ankle. It takes time. And guess what? Julius Randle was back to his regular self after a couple of games in the regular season.

Although he faced another injury this past season — a shoulder injury in late January that sidelined him the rest of the way — he was still chosen for his third All-Star appearance. He was able to finish the regular season with per-game averages of 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting at 47.2% from the field.

During the short stint where Randle was not doing so hot, many fans grew impatient and would make prompt comments about him. “Trade him now. He’s awful. The Knicks can do so much better than him.” Since it feels like history has repeated itself with his back-to-back injuries, the same thing is happening right now after not seeing him in action since January 27th. Maybe some Knicks fans really do believe that there’s a better player out there on the market who can be of value to the team, but I feel like a lot of it has to do with the recency effect.

With that being said, Julius Randle should stay.

Julius Randle’s fit on the Knicks’ 2024-25 roster

With the Knicks losing iHart to OKC in free agency, they will be in need of some serious muscle. Randle can do just that. With Mitchell Robinson staking the center position and Precious Achiuwa filling in as the Knicks’ potential back-up, Randle is the next best thing to a big man.

The powerhouse is an exceptional dynamic creator who can relieve some stress off Jalen Brunson, the same player who is constantly absorbing immense contact in the paint while fighting his way through for a bucket. And if you remember, Brunson was also facing a hand fracture in Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers. A player like Randle would be able to fend off such defenders off JB, creating more space, as well as the potential for a long-lasting, healthier Knicks team that can truly contend for the title. In other words, Randle facilitates as a breather for his teammates to prevent fatigue all around the roster.

And let’s not forget Randle’s relentless efforts and size that intimidates his opponents, causing mayhem on his defenders as he forces his way in for much-needed points at the rim. This leads to him being guarded by multiple players not just one, allowing for his teammates much like Anunoby and Brunson to get open for threes. Randle’s not only an emphatic playmaker but he also bolsters on the boards with both scoring and rebounding. Although he missed most of the 2023-24 season, believe it or not, it was the second-best field-goal percentage of his career.

Aside from Randle being more efficient as of late, he’s also unafraid to notch more shot attempts on his belt. Why? Well, it’s quite transparent that Randle is surrounded by better teammates that he can freely trust more after RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley’s departure to the Toronto Raptors despite their beloved efforts — I think it’s safe to say the Knicks have thrived off OG’s arrival. That being said, Randle has taken the highest amount of three-point shot attempts per game of his career after the arrival of JB in the 2022-23 season (8.3) and his fourth-highest last season (5.3).

With the Knicks bringing in Bridges, who is also a prolific shooter, the Knicks will be thriving off the boards even more with a healthy Randle and JB in the mix. As I mentioned before, the Knicks cannot afford to move on from Randle because he offers an extra set of hands at the offense. I think it’s quite clear that for a good amount of games, JB was seen as the man of the hour, carrying much of the Knicks’ offense on his back. Now he has Randle, Bridges, Anunoby and Donte DiVincenzo, who can flourish even more with this new and updated look of the Knicks.

That being said, Randle can act as a decoy for the rest of the shot-creators on the Knicks. He can generate more timely and smart shots for both himself and his teammates without anybody rushing their shots or forcing them out to the point of exhaustion. And we all know how gassed the Knicks were at the end of their playoff run.

Not to mention, it takes a special eye to spot a Tom Thibodeau-certified player that fits perfectly into the roster. Randle brings a monstrous mentality to the team. Maybe you can’t say that Randle is the image of the Knicks but you can definitely say he’s paved the way for them and that he’s been a big part of the culture. And yes, he’s had his struggling moments. But throughout it all, he still wants to remain as a Knicks player.

“I’ve always said from the very beginning that I would love to be here in New York and I would love to continue to add on what the guys did in the playoffs,” Randle said recently. “I feel like that was my biggest personal goal, or I’d say team goal in a sense, was when I got here is to be able to build and compete and to be at the point where we’re at now — where it’s an actual possibility [to win a title].” And that right there, has to count for something.

So, no, this team is not better off without Julius Randle. It’s quite the opposite conclusion, actually. He’s a critical piece of the Knicks.

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