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Julius Randle Return Might Have More To Do With Mental Blockage Than Injury Recovery, Hints Tom Thibodeau

Published 04/02/2024, 7:45 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The New York Knicks are left with eight games into the postseason and they are currently on a losing streak. The team lost the two previous games with the SAS and OKC; the two same games they were hoping to win and climb the conference standings. The fact that the Knicks miss their big man, Julius Randle, couldn’t be more pronounced. Sidelined since January 27th, Randle is looking at a return to the court sooner rather than later.

Although he won’t be playing against the Miami Heat tonight, the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy tweets coach Tom Thibodeau’s hopes for Julius Randle. “The thing for him is that he’s got to keep working every day until he gets to the point where he feels confident that he can take the contact that he’s accustomed to. When you look at his game and the way he plays, you don’t want him to change his style of play”.

“And I think that’s important. And so keep doing what you’re doing. You have to have a belief that it will turn. Which I do. Maybe it’s tomorrow. Maybe it’s the day after. Who knows when it is?”. When Thibodeau said Julius Randle has to become confident enough to “take the contact,” he referred more to the mental strength the 250-pound forward needs to get back.

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Randle not changing his style of play is one reason for the team’s success this season. The 3x All-Star has shaped up to be an engine for the Knicks offense. His gritty, brutal style of play has fans reminiscing about those Carmelo Anthony-led teams. As the team’s second-best scorer, Randle’s 24 points per game is also an aspect that the Knicks will be thrilled to have, especially when moving to the playoffs. But for all this to happen, Julius Randle has to feel like his old self.

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Julius Randle isn’t alone in his mental block struggles

The mental block of players, especially when they are victims of injuries that keep them sidelined for a long time, has been a prevalent subject recently. Players like Klay Thompson and Ben Simmons have pointed it out. Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, and many more have opened up about their struggles with mental health.

The Chicago Bulls forward is an avid advocate of mental health struggles. He even started a YouTube podcast, Dinners with DeMar, as a safe space for players to come in and talk about the problems they are facing or have faced. But it’s not just the players, as the league too, has been forthcoming about the importance of having a hold on one’s mental health. The Mavs GM Nico Harrison said, “We believe in it, but also we saw an increasing need for it,” in a chat with The Athletic. He was referring to the NBA’s Headspace mindfulness app and the general measures they have taken to ensure the players can always reach out to whoever they are comfortable with about their difficulties.

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It doesn’t matter how good of a player one is, but not being strong mentally can limit one’s skills on-court to the point where one becomes a liability rather than an asset. And that’s something coach Thibodeau isn’t looking for right now. He made that quite clear when he said that while he believed Randle’s old self would return; the team was willing to wait until it did. However long it takes.

“Frustrated” Josh Hart’s Julius Randle & OG Anunoby Admission Could End Knicks’ Postseason Dreams

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Written by:

Geisha Pulimoottil Don

853Articles

One take at a time

Geisha, serving as an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports, actively engages in the coverage of breaking news, specializing particularly in injury reports. Demonstrating a notable proficiency in beat reporting, she is currently advancing her scope to include events, focusing specifically on refining her skills in play-by-play commentary through Live Blogs. Moreover, she maintains a vigilant watch on BTS narratives, recognizing their potential to shape or disrupt the NBA landscape.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz