To say that Julius Randle has struggled so far in the NBA Playoffs this year would be a complete understatement. He has been abysmal so far through the first four games, and his play has been the main reason why the New York Knicks currently trail the Atlanta Hawks three games to one in their first-round series. To be fair, the incredible regular season by Randle is why the Knicks are even in the Playoffs in the first place, but his postseason performance has been extremely disappointing.
How Bad Has Randle Been?
To properly represent just how bad Randle has been in the postseason, it’s important to point out how incredible he was in the regular season. On his way to winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award and being selected as an All-Star, Randle posted solid averages of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists per game. He was very efficient, shooting over 45 percent from the field including over 40 percent from three-point range. His play was the biggest reason why the Knicks made the Playoffs and earned the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Impressively, this was a season that they were projected to be one of the worst teams.
Through four games played this postseason, it’s been a completely different narrative for Randle. He’s gone from being the reason for the Knicks’ success to the one to blame for their struggles. His points per game average have dropped off significantly to just 16.8 due to his poor shooting percentage of just 27.4 percent from the field.
Additionally, his playmaking has been missing as well, as demonstrated by only averaging 4.3 assists per game. He has not even blocked one shot in this series, and his overall defense has been questionable at times. He has been awful in just about every aspect of the game, especially when compared to how well he played in the regular season.
Can the Knicks Survive?
Honestly, with how abysmal Randle has been, the Knicks are lucky that they even won a game. The way this series has played out so far would have been no surprise if the Hawks scored the sweep. Instead, they won three out of the four games and will head back to Madison Square Garden for game five. If Randle does not turn things around immediately, game five will more than likely be the final game of this series. Even if the Knicks somehow survive game five, there is no way they are going to beat the Hawks in three straight games with this version of Randle.
Changing the Narrative
On the other hand, this series is still not over quite yet. Coming back from this big of a hole is extremely challenging but not impossible. It has been done before in the NBA, so there is still hope for the Knicks. The entire team is going to have to step up, but the only realistic chance they have depends solely on the performance of Randle. He will not only need to get back to his regular-season form, but if the Knicks are going to win three straight against this Hawks team, he will need to be even more spectacular than that.
Julius Randle is the one responsible for the hole that the Knicks are in, so it would only be fitting if he were the one to dig them out of it. This season has been defined by bringing his game to a new level, and that is exactly what he will have to do again if he wants any chance to lead the Knicks to victory. A team can’t win three straight games before winning one game, so the Knicks need to just take it one day at a time.
Randle will get the opportunity to begin changing the narrative about his postseason performance in game five at the Garden on Wednesday night.