With or without Donovan Mitchell, the New York Knicks still need Julius Randle

Kevin Durant’s request for a trade has made New York the center of attention for sports news. As front offices wait to hear updates on the latest negotiations, the New York Knicks focus on improving. Lack of production has caused the organization to lose its following, leaving Madison Square Garden with restless and agitated fans.

Rebuilding a team that honors New York’s legacy has been the goal for Scott Perry and his staff. While the front office attempts to craft a winning team, head coach Tom Thibodeau must rely on rostered players to change the narrative. After three seasons with the team, former All-Star Julius Randle is becoming a role player for the team.

New York Knicks big man Julius Randles uses his experience to help teammates.

Experience has helped Randle develop into a pivotal player for New York. In 2014, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted the Kentucky Wildcat with the seventh overall pick. A right tibia fracture caused Randle to miss most of his rookie year.

After years of providing minutes as a role player, the former first-rounder relocated to Louisiana to join the New Orleans Pelicans. The team helped this young power forward find his identity on the court. His three-point percentage increased by 12%—raising his points per game average from 13.2 to 16.1.

Free Agency ended the marriage between Randle and New Orleans. The Knicks made the most of the divorce. Their decision to sign Randle to a three-year, $63 million contract spread hope to the supporting fans. Acquiring a power forward that could stretch the floor felt like the right move for a team looking to win more games.

The New York Knicks need Julius Randle to have a productive season.

Building around a versatile forward has helped New York progress throughout the years. In 2021, Randle’s 24.1 points per game helped the Knicks secure a playoff seed–their first one in eight seasons. A loss to the Atlanta Hawks forced New York to make an early playoff exit but could not erase the progress achieved.

New York’s front office has kept the team’s positive momentum with their activity in the off-season. Acquiring guard Jalen Brunson will add more playoff experience to Thibodeau’s backcourt. Playing for the Dallas Mavericks helped mold the fifth-year player to become a dependable source of points. In 2021, he set his career high average in points.

Developing the frontcourt could help the Knicks find better results in the upcoming seasons. Rumors of All-Star guard and New York native Donovan Mitchell joining the squad have circulated around the league. Adding No. 45 to the roster would change the projection of the upcoming seasons. His 25.9 points ranked 9th among players in 2021.

Missing the playoffs last season resurrected questions concerning the Knicks’ plan to rebuild. Their 37-45 record finished four games below .500—a step backward from the prior season. As the Knicks prepare for the upcoming season, they must remember who helped make them a contender for post-season play.

One season is not enough to quit on Julius Randle, who will be ready for redemption in 2022.