Randle is an All-Star again. But is he the long-term option?


Keith Allison | Wikimedia Commons

Muhamet Hadzibrahimi

The 2020-21 Julius Randle has returned in the 2022-23 NBA season, as the New York Knicks forward has averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds en route to his second All-Star game selection. The versatile Randle has augmented the Knicks in more ways than one, and it is apparent that his play is sustainable.

But after a rough 2021-22 season, fans were left questioning whether Randle’s All-Star campaign the year prior was a fluke. That season, Randle proved he was a lethal mid-range scorer, dynamic passer and solid on-ball defender. But last season, Randle regressed into bad habits of costly turning the ball over frequently and complaining to NBA referees.

An element of Randle’s game that has returned to premium levels is his three-point shooting. This season, Randle has already knocked down more three-point shots than he did during the entirety of last season. The threes have amounted to raising over $71,000 for the Earl Monroe New Renaissance Basketball School.

To say Randle’s time as a New York Knick is a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Randle’s high moments have placed the squad back in playoff contention. But his poor play at times makes deciding whether he is a long-term option for the franchise a tough choice for the Knicks to make.

The addition of All-Star snub Jalen Brunson and an improved RJ Barrett have worked inconsistently with Randle this season. At times, head coach Tom Thibodeau has benched Barrett in favor of the defensive-minded Immanuel Quickley to make up for the woes the trio share on the defensive end.

The amazing performances from Randle this season have led fans to believe Barrett is the odd man out. This would be a surprising decision for the Knicks front office to make, considering the current ceiling of this basketball team is a likely first-round playoff exit.

Maintaining a core of Randle, Brunson and Barrett keeps the team at a talent disadvantage when up against some of the league’s superstar players. The New York Knicks play in the same conference as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid. The only way they could expand the talent they currently have is through the draft or trades.

If the team doesn’t consider Randle a building block for the future, this offseason may be the time to cash in on his value while it’s high. A tandem of Brunson and Barrett in a faster-moving offense with more perimeter shooting surrounding them may be an option.

The 28-year-old Randle is tearing up the stat sheets, and fans should cherish his talent. A long-term stint with the New York Knicks is highly likely, but it should not be at the extent of developing young players.