Have R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle Shown That The New York Knicks Are Finally a Functional Franchise?

Published 01/06/2021, 8:55 AM EST
Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) gets defended by Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) during the first quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


Stop the presses, the New York Knicks are a good basketball team again. After years of tanking for draft picks and missing on free agents, the Knicks are making it work with their young core and assortment of talent. While the pursuit of top stars won’t be stopping, the Knicks have started to show improvement on the court.

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Julius Randle and RJ Barrett have been the two bright spots this season. While Barrett is still struggling with sophomore year inconsistency, Randle is torching all opponents. He is averaging 22.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists as the Knicks hold a 4-3 record through the first 7 games. New coach Tom Thibodeau seems to be having a profound impact.

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However, most of the roster still represents why the Knicks have been this bad. You can see the players they got from the Dallas Mavericks for Kristaps Porzingis like Dennis Smith Jr. There are also mismanaged young stars like Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox. There is still a lot wrong with the Knicks. But are they moving in the right direction?

New York Knicks mending their ways

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As long as James Dolan continues to be erratic with his team, there will be dysfunction. However, new front office hires and new coaching staff seem to be serving well for the Knicks. They also got the College Player of the Year in Obi Toppin in the 2020 Draft. While he is injured right now and struggling with efficiency, he is showing he has the tools for success.

Jan 2, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) shoots the ball over Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) in the third quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

However, Julius Randle is the biggest story of this team. He was their much-maligned ‘star signing’ from the 2019 free agency after they missed on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. His performances have led the Knicks on this revival, but whether it can be sustained over a season is questionable.

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However, what this start proves is that the players have the right mindset. Despite the 2021 Draft Class being loaded with talent, the Knicks haven’t tried to tank. If coach Thibodeau can cultivate a winning attitude in this team, they will be successful. The play of people like Barrett and Randle makes the Knicks attractive again. This is definitely not enough to sustain winning, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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