Randle won the 2021 Most Improved Player of the Year Award after having a banner 2020-21 regular season. However, he’s been historically atrocious against the Hawks in the postseason, and Rose’s stellar play for the Knicks isn’t being rewarded.
Julius Randle was stellar during the regular season
Randle was the Knicks’ MVP during the regular season. He appeared in 71 games and averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists while shooting 45.6% from the field, 41.1% from beyond the arc, and 81.1% from the free-throw line.
The Knicks went 41-31 behind Randle’s stellar play. The lefty recorded 41 double-doubles, six triple-doubles and scored at least 40 points three times. Along with winning the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, he made his first All-Star team, becoming the first Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony to play in the All-Star Game.
Randle deserves credit for leading the Knicks to the playoffs. However, he wouldn’t have accomplished that goal without the help of the youngest MVP in NBA history.
The Knicks became dangerous after acquiring Derrick Rose
The Knicks acquired Rose from the Detroit Pistons and became a dangerous team. They went 24-11 with the former Chicago Bulls superstar in the lineup.
In 35 games with the Knicks, Rose averaged 14.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. He shot 48.7% from the field, 41.1% from beyond the arc, and 88.3% from the free-throw line, giving New York a go-to scorer off the bench.
The Knicks are the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They don’t get that spot without Rose, who remains one of the most explosive players in the NBA despite undergoing four knee surgeries since winning his MVP Award in 2011. With Randle, Rose, and R.J. Barrett leading the way, NBA pundits predicted the Knicks to defeat the Hawks in the first round.
However, not only is New York down 2-1 to Atlanta, but Randle is playing terribly and not giving Rose the support he needs.
Derrick Rose is carrying the Knicks, Julius Randle is folding under pressure
Through the first three games of the Knicks-Hawks series, Rose has been spectacular. He’s averaging 24.3 points, 5.0 boards, and 4.7 assists while shooting 51.7% overall and 50.0% from beyond the arc. The Chicago native has been the second-best player in the series behind Hawks star Trae Young.
Meanwhile, Randle has been awful. He’s averaging just 14.7 points and shooting a woeful 24.1% from the floor and 30.0% from deep. He has the worst FG percentage by any player in the first three games of a postseason in the shot-clock era.
Despite getting 30 points from Rose, the Knicks lost Game 3 by 11 points. Randle was 2-of-15 from the field and had three turnovers. He’s not helping Rose at all on offense and looks completely lost.
The Knicks will lose to the Hawks in five games if Randle doesn’t snap out of his funk and play like the superstar he was in the regular season. Rose is a polished veteran who will continue to play well since he has plenty of postseason experience, but he needs Randle to be that second scorer to take some of the pressure off him.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.