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Julius Randle, fueled by durability and reliability, wins the Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Availability is the best ability

NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

This has been one of the best weeks to be a Knicks fan in a very long time. They are in the midst of nine game winning streak, both the team and the players are finally getting getting some well deserved love from the media, and now to top it all off, just a week after Jalen Brunson won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award, Julius Randle was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week. On top of hitting a ridiculous game-winning shot against the Miami Heat on Friday night, the Knicks big man averaged 29.5PPG, 8.3RPG, and 4.8APG in route to leading the Knicks to a perfect 4-0 record.

Now, it’s been stated time and time again this season just how much Randle has improved. Shot selection has improved, his defensive efforts have been way more consistent, his jump shot is better than ever, and his body language has been great. But there’s one more thing that’s helped Randle be as valuable as he has been, which in turn, has helped him become an All-Star and the reigning Player of the Week. And that is his durability. In the age of load management where stars often take games off to recover and stay healthy, Randle has played every single game this season. Yup, all 66 of them.

Sure, playing in every game doesn’t seem that insane. I mean, it is his job after all. But when considering the fact that not many players, star or not, play all 82 games, Randle deserves a lot of praise. According to this article last season, NBA stars missed an average of 28 games last season and none of them played even 80 games, something Randle has a chance of accomplishing.

And this isn’t something that is happening by chance. While playing for an incredibly tough and old-school head coach like Tom Thibodeau plays into the equation (the team’s four top scorers have combined to miss just 13 games), this is also something that Randle himself takes very seriously. When recently asked about the hot topic that is load management, Randle shunned the trend quickly saying, “for me personally, that’s just how I feel. I understand the science and all that different stuff behind it. But I guess I have my own science. For me, I feel better doing things. I’m active. On top of that, I just put way too much into my body, for me personally to cheat myself out of being available for my team.”

This should come as no surprise as Randle, who has only missed 13 games in his four season tenure with the Knicks, was teammates with the late great Kobe Bryant, who had a very similar mindset until his final years. And we should all appreciate it. Randle is far from a perfect player but he’s been incredibly durable, reliable and available.