After a loss, it is very easy to focus on what went wrong. The Knicks looked fatigued in their overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. After playing heavy minutes against the Pistons the game prior, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson were in for another big workload.
Aside from RJ Barretts 32 point game, Julius Randles passing was noticeable.
Randle finished the game with eight assists which was really eye-opening. His assists have been down this year, averaging four per game compared to 5.1 in 2021 and six in 2020. He’s actually taking fewer shots this season than in his All-Star 2020 season, but the assists remain down.
Monday’s game against Toronto was a great reminder of what Randle can do as a playmaker. The Raptors are a tough matchup against power forwards, and he recognized that.
Exploiting mismatches against the smaller Raptors team, the Knicks power forward looked for center Mitchell Robinson early with passes like this:
Randle finds Mitch for the lob! pic.twitter.com/k2r1YZ3nXV— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 16, 2023
Randle to Mitch has been so good to watch this quarter pic.twitter.com/6u2Y9NRcEN— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 16, 2023
He picked up four assists in the first eight minutes, three of those to Robinson.
This was only the second time all season that he’s had at least eight assists in a game. The first coming against the Memphis Grizzlies on November 11th, when he had nine in a near triple-double.
This season he is averaging 6.8 potential assists, second on the team behind Jalen Brunson (12.2). In December, Randle averaged 8.3 potential assists per game, creating 12.2 points on assists. The number in the first month of the new year has dropped to seven, with only 11.3 assist points created. Getting Randle back into the groove of looking for teammates will only help this team continue to grow.
As long as he scores consistently, he will start to see more double teams, forcing the ball out of his hands. Knicks fans aren’t looking for Randle to average double-digit assists but being in the five-to-seven range should not be a big ask. An All-Star caliber player puts up All-Star numbers, and that includes passing the ball.
It’s been a resurgence year for Julius Randle after a disappointing 2021-22 season.
Monday was a nice reminder of how he can take his game even higher than what we’ve seen so far this season.