You’d be hard pressed to find someone not overjoyed by the New York Knicks surprise playoff season. But it all started with Julius Randle, who made the most of an extended offseason and became an All-Star.
The seventh-year forward is averaging career-highs across the board: 23.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists while knocking down 41 percent of his five-plus three-point shots.
An Eastern Conference All-Star this season, Randle’s been the subject of both All-NBA and MVP conversations, a first in a long time for the New York Knicks.
A Stark Improvement
Julius Randle joined ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast, The Woj Pod, on Thursday to discuss all things New York Knicks and his own 2020-2021 campaign.
After a disappointing first season with the team, the 26-year old put in serious work in Dallas over the offseason, with his longtime trainer Tyler Relph.
Their biggest focus? Three-point shooting, an area where Randle’s seen an historic jump. As Wojnarowski said on the podcast, it’s “transformed everything” for his game.
Last season, Randle made 64-of-231 attempts from deep, good for a .277 clip.
This year he’s been lights out, connecting on 127-of-310 attempts, a .410 clip.
Randle told Wojnarowski that knowing he wanted to improve his three-point shooting, he watched the tape of a few Hall of Famers in order to improve his footwork, and help get to his spots on the perimeter:
I was very specific on what I wanted to improve on. Last year was a big learning experience for me, I can’t just bully to the rim every time…I have to have some kind of in-between game…I watched a lot of Kobe and his footwork and how he was able to get to spots, and other guys as well, Melo.
Anthony, one of the greatest Knicks of all time, is a longtime master of the mid-range. His footwork has lead to him sitting 11th all-time in points scored, now in his 18th season.
And the late Kobe Bryant was a teammate of Randle’s for his initial two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, a five-time champion, and a class of 2020 Hall of Famer.
There are certainly worse guys to mirror your game (even if only a portion) after.
New York Knicks Playoff Odds
After their win over the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks are 33-27, and the Eastern Conference fourth-seed.
Their chances at making the playoffs have climbed to 84 percent, according to Five Thirty Eight’s forecast.
But the website is still giving the team a less than one percent shot at making and/or winning the 2021 NBA Finals.
That number could increase if they retain homecourt going into the postseason.
New York’s currently tied with the fifth-seed Hawks, with a game lead on the sixth-seed Boston Celtics, and a two game lead on the seventh-seed Miami Heat.
So it seems a playoff appearance is a near-lock for the Knicks, who’ve missed the cut in seven consecutive seasons.
As far as what seed they ultimately place in, well that’s completely up in the air.
Tankathon.com has New York’s remaining schedule as the seventh-toughest in the entire NBA.
12 games to go.
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