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Media Roundup: Julius Randle expects prime season, potential lineups in 2023-24, and RJ v SGA.

Expect a lot of Randle this season.

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New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Stefan Bondy (NY Daily News) wrote about Julius Randle’s recent appearance on The Shop Uninterrupted.

The show was taped live in Brooklyn and also included Method Man and Joe Bada$$.

While there, Randle pontificated on various topics and predicted that he will be in his physical and mental prime this upcoming season.

After the New York Knicks exited the second round of the 2023 Playoffs, Julius required arthroscopic surgery on his ankle. He had sprained it twice, and the injury hampered his postseason performance.

“I feel like your prime is when your mental and physical kind of meet. And physically I feel like this is going to be my best year. But mentally I feel like I’ve taken a tremendous step because I’ve had to slow all the way down. I wasn’t allowed to train.”

Randle recently revealed on Paul George’s podcast that he had been forced to watch more film than usual while recovering from the surgery. In his Shop appearance, he elaborated.

“I’ve studied a lot of people. I studied LeBron and watched how he used angles,” said the 28-year-old power forward. He added that the work ethic of Jalen Brunson and Jimmy Butler “pushed” him motivationally.

No Randle media appearance is complete without questions about the pressure he feels in New York. “Yeah, it’s different. It’s definitely different from every other place. It’s tough. . . . But I could say being here in New York had made me who I am to this day. It built me.”

Read Bondy’s full piece here.

Meanwhile, over at The Athletic, Fred Katz fantasized about the lineups he wants Coach Tom Thibodeau to try next season. (Paywalled)

With the Knicks running back the same rotation as last season—subbing Donte DiVincenzo in and Obi Toppin out—Katz offered various ideas for mixing things up.

His proposals run from “Super small . . . with a center” (Quickley, DiVincenzo, Hart, Hartenstein, and Barrett) to “Small starting line-ups” (Brunson, Quickley, Grimes, Barrett, and Robinson—on occasions when Randle is unavailable).

The proposed “Super small … with a center” would lack shooting, but they’d be a fun, fast group to watch, with lots of defensive juice. Barring injury, you probably won’t see much of that, though.

Thibs sleeps on a pillow embroidered with the phrase “Rim Protection.” Any combination he fields will include at least one very tall Knick. As Katz writes, “Nearly 96 percent of Randle’s playing time this past season came with a conventional big man next to him, and that 4 percent without one was because of foul trouble, injuries or a rare desperation situation.” And Randle is big—and strong—enough that many coaches would play him in the center position from time to time.

Katz notes that shifting RJ Barrett to power forward adds pressure on Mitchell Robinson—whose offensive rebounding was crucial for the Knicks last season—since opponents could then double-team him on the boards. On the other hand, Immanuel Quickley and Donte DiVincenzo can take advantage of defenders rushing Robinson, as they excel at retrieving loose balls and exploiting open lanes.

Nevertheless, the smart money is on Randle + Big as the season’s predominant frontcourt equation.

Katz concludes with speculation about which bench player will earn more playing time for himself. Last season saw Deuce McBride’s role expanded at times. This year, a slow start by Grimes could give DiVincenzo a crack at the starting lineup.

Thibs loves Jericho Sims’ speed and could employ him more often as a reserve power forward this season. For now, I would give that scenario better odds than any involving Isaiah Roby.

Finally, Twitter—or X, is it?—gifted us some tasty morsels.

The first depicts the Knicks’ associate head coach Johnnie Bryant diagramming plays at a white board with coaching legend Larry Brown. Out of context, one can only guess at the what and how and why of this meeting. Regardless, the image is encouraging:

The second clip gives an idea of what it might be like to try to guard Immanuel Quickley. In it, the spring-heeled guard demonstrates his skills on a court at the Miami Hoop Academy (“Miami’s premier basketball academy training program”):

And finally, we got a glimpse into Team Canada’s practices, where RJ Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander duel in daily shooting competitions apparently. Any minor feud that motivates RJ to improve his shooting is a welcome sight. Enjoy: