Now tell me Julius Randle is having a “slow start to the 2023-24 season.”
Randle is playing his 10th season of pro hoops since he landed in the Association coming out of Kentucky. He did so by getting drafted as a top-10 pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014. Seventh overall, Hollywood bound.
The 2014 Lakers sucked a bit. Los Angeles had enjoyed playoffs basketball uninterruptedly from 2006 through 2013. They won two Finals—back-to-back, no less—in June 2009 and 2010. Then they made it to the Western Conference semis twice after losing in the first round in 2013.
Even then and entering a summer in which they had no first-round draft pick, the Lake Show was lucky to dodge a bullet in a reasonably horrible 2013 draft with the Cleveland Cavaliers picking Sergey Karasev in the 19th position. Yes, Giannis and Gobert were members of that class and went 15th and 27th, but nobody in his sane mind projected them to their current career arcs—again, horrible draft class.
The 2013-14 Lakers had the 27th-worst net rating of the league. They finished the season with a 27-55 record and the seventh-overall pick. Enter Julius Randle, about to start playing for a team in shambles. Or so he hoped because he missed virtually the full season after going down 14 minutes into his rookie year with a broken right tibia. Ugh.
July 8, 2018: Signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Randle played three seasons in Los Angeles before signing as a free agent with the New Orleans Pelicans in July, 2018. Just one year after plying his trade in Mardi Land, Randle was poached by the Knicks, where he’s spent the last four seasons and 19 games of the 2024 one.
Here are Randle’s counting stats in the first 19 games played by the Knicks from 2019-20 through 2023-24 (no need to mention Randle appeared in all 19 games each season). You can check the actual numbers here, but it’s much clearer to visualize them in a tidy chart.
No, this is not 2020 anymore. Also no, this is not last year, nor Randle’s first season in New York when he struggled his fair share to put up numbers on all fronts.
This doesn’t mean Randle hasn’t had his worst season—and one of the historically worst years ever by a player in the NBA—shooting the rock for the start of a campaign.
The numbers have bounced back a bit and JR is currently shooting 41/28/70. The 3-point shots are absolutely broken but Randle had an even worse start to the year in 2019-20 when he shot 27.1% from beyond the arc through 19 outings, mind you.
The True Shooting (50.6% this season), for the nerds out there, is his lowest since his second season (first, if you want to avoid that one-game rookie campaign) in Los Angeles when he posted an atrocious 47.2% figure in the same span.
See, the beauty of Randle is to be found in his all-around game, not just his shooting stroke and accuracy.
I have already touched on this many times when discussing Randle in the past, and I will keep on doing it forever. Randle is a unique basketball player. He’s a do-it-all genius.
Barring his start to the 2020-21 season, Randle has accrued more rebounds and assists than he’s ever done while clad in an Orange and Blue uni.
He’s stolen just two fewer rocks than his best years as a Knick through the 19 first games of a season. He’s not a blocking maven but he’s swatted three rocks, on par with years past (except the outlier 14 he put up in 2022—wut). The turnovers have reached 60 on the season but that’s the fewest except last year’s 57.
And per Basketball-Reference’s Game Score metric, Randle is at 14.8 through Friday for the second-best mark through his career, not just in New York. Only once he topped it when he posted an average 17.7 GmSc to go with a 3.8 BPM in 2020-21.
Oh, and for those still in the classic beat, the plus/minus through 19 is the absolute freaking best in Randle’s pro time at +82. Randle’s prior best was +15 in his last year in Los Angeles. Other than this season and that one, Randle had never boasted a positive plus/minus through 19 games. He had a nice zero +/- in 2020-21, but that’s it. All other figures came in the red, below the neutral line.
Peep at Randle’s last five games and you’ll get a nice picture of what this man is capable of—and not.
Three consecutive games pulling down 10+ boards (including 20 rebounds once). Four consecutive games scoring 20+ points. Back-to-back 8+ dimes in the most recent two. Before? A stinker (and a loss) against the Suns with 28 points but only two dimes, five boards, and a couple of turnovers. Before that one? A low-key 13-8-7 line... but with six TOs.
Give me the shooting woes along with the all-across-the-board production. I won’t complain at all, because I know this is far from Randle’s worst overall start to a season. And there’s no denying that.