Kristian Winfield (NY Daily News) wrote this weekend about Julius Randle’s “infectious intensity powers” the Knicks.
As Winfield observed, last season Randle had an impressive season, statistically. He was among the exclusive trio of players (others being MVPs Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo) to maintain averages of 25 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
Winfield quoted Thibs as saying about Randle, “Your veteran leaders are the ones that set the tone for you, and the best leadership that you can have is what you do each and everyday. [...] So, how hard do you practice? How hard do you concentrate in a film session? In a team meeting?”
In the article, incoming shooter Donte DiVincenzo had high praise for Randle, too. “I don’t have to take his shoulders no more,” said DDV. “I just love how he approaches every single day. It kinda honestly shocked me a little bit of how he came in — you don’t know people before you get to their team. So, once I got to the team, he really wowed me with the type of person he is.”
Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes both praised Randle’s consistency and work ethic in the piece. To be honest, teammates are always praising Randle for these virtues.
Mitchell Robinson added a positive quote, too, about Randle’s getting up shots. Robinson has spent considerable time on his shooting this summer—free throws specifically. Last season, he shot 48% (and lower in the playoffs) from the line. Kristian Winfield posted this clip of him working on his shot at practice this weekend:
Mitchell Robinson working on his free throws earlier. Robinson shot 48% from the foul line last season (39% in the playoffs) and said it’s been an area of emphasis for him this summer. #Knicks pic.twitter.com/D16PRZCPhX— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) October 7, 2023
Working his way up to 50%! Keep going Mitch!
Immanuel Quickley received a lot of press coverage over the past week. On his podcast, Game Theory with Sam Vecenie, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic called IQ, “Probably the best backup point guard in the NBA.” Lots of virtual ink has been spilled about his contract situation, whether that will be resolved before the season starts, and if he should get $20M per year for four years, or $25. To his credit, Quickley stays pretty tight-lipped about the business stuff and focuses instead on his conditioning and skill development.
Obligatory tweet insert:
From earlier: Immanuel Quickley, R.J. Barrett and Nathan Knight getting shots up (feat. Julius Randle x Tom Thibodeau conversation)— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) October 7, 2023
Quickley said a priority for him this off-season was getting stronger and he certainly looks it. Said he can bench more. #Knicks pic.twitter.com/hrWR6ah3mt
Tommy Beer (https://tommybeer.substack.com/) tweeted a surprising fact about Quickley. Per Beer, the top five point guards with the highest cumulative +/- over the past three seasons are: 1. Jrue Holiday, 2. Steph Curry, 3. Chris Paul, 4. Marcus Smart, and 5. Immanuel Quickley. See:
Top 5 highest cumulative +/- among all PG's over the past three seasons:— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) October 6, 2023
1. Jrue Holiday
2. Steph Curry
3. Chris Paul
4. Marcus Smart
5. Immanuel Quickley pic.twitter.com/MhVXFDRfO0
Sure, paying a reserve point guard $100 for four years might seem high, but the runner-up Sixth Man of the Year has become one the most important players on the team. Uncap the vault, Dolan.
Finally, a note about Jericho Sims. This weekend, Stefan Bondy (now of the NY Post) quoted Tom Thibodeau as saying, “Jericho has really had a great camp. […] Obviously coming off the surgery, he had a great summer the way he worked. He’s really done a good job for us.”
Thibs has considered using the 6’10”, 245 lb Sims as a backup power forward and might be showing his cards with this praise. Isaiah Roby fizzled during Summer League, Josh Hart is more of a shooting guard/small forward than a four, and Isaiah Hartenstein played so well last season that he ate up all the backup center minutes that would have gone to Sims. If Thibs feels encouraged to play Sims more, slotting him in behind Julius Randle seems one easy path to doing so.
I’ll be watching tonight to see where, when, and if Sims plays.
Can’t wait. Go Knicks!