With the NBA offseason kicking off, Knicks forward Julius Randle sat down with Clippers forward Paul George on “Podcast P” to talk about his offseason recovery from ankle surgery, his time in New York, and what his expectations are for the Knicks going forward.
Appearing on the show with his left ankle heavily wrapped, the two players immediately launched into a discussion of Randle’s recovery from ankle surgery.
“I been good, bro,” Randle said about his recovery from offseason ankle surgery. “A lot of times it’s just how you look at it. With injuries, bro, they suck. The rehab. The process of it. But it’s offseason for us, so it’s really giving me the opportunity to just slow down and digest everything from the whole year.”
Randle admits that the downtime has forced him to change the way he approaches preparation for the season.
“At this point, the skills stuff, you’re gonna continue to get better, but it’s the mind,” he admitted. “For me, it done slowed me down, so I’m able to, I’ve never been a film guy…so I’m doing things that I might not necessarily take the time to do. I can’t physically be out there, but mentally, I can put myself in those places and watch them.”
After he joked that he wanted to be at Paul George’s level, Julius Randle admitted that he “doesn’t know if [he] gets to that place if [he] was fully healthy going into the summer because [he] might just attack the summer without a real strategic plan.”
Randle admitted that he’s been looking at film of George and players like Jimmy Butler to see how they have evolved their games to become more efficient and effective as players.
“I was 26 when I won Most Improved [Player],” said Randle. “That sh%t don’t happen. Usually, that’s for people younger in their career, so that just goes to my mindset of being able to improve at 26, 27, 28, 29. Ultimately, how can I be the best version of myself to be the last one standing?”
George mentioned that when he watches film of both his makes and misses, he focuses on how he can be more efficient as a player. The thinks about how he could have gotten to shots easier or if there was a better read that he missed which led to a missed shot.
Obviously, given that Julius Randle was one of the least effective isolation scorers among starting players and was ninth on the Knicks in effective field goal rate, those are lessons the power forward could learn as well.
Later in the conversation, Julius Randle also discussed the lessons he learned about playing in New York.
“If you can win here, you can win, it doesn’t matter where you play,” Randle explained about why he was excited by the challenge of playing in New York. However, he also admitted that even though he thought he was ready for the “heat” of playing for the Knicks, it was more difficult than he imagined.
“When I got to New York, I’d say first, first thing first, like 101, if you want like a lesson, don’t, don’t do thumbs-down,” Randle joked about his 2022 on-court gesture. “Like, I did that—that didn’t work out. Maybe that was my immaturity. But yeah, don’t… don’t do that.”
“The hardest thing for me is my family,” he admitted. “Like, you know, the Garden is a different animal. It’s the hardest thing for me, my family, and my sons, both of my sons—Ky in particular, because he’s older.”
However, despite those struggles, Randle admitted that he has loved his time playing for the Knicks.
“Honestly, I love it,” he admited. “[New York City] made me the player I am today. It pushes me. It all depends on how you look at it. It’s been tough on some people, and it’s been tough for me…but I love it because it’s taught me so much more about myself. And as a player, figuring out what really matters, what doesn’t. It taught me a lot about who I am as a human.”
Yet, he did go back to joking that playing at the Garden ages a player quickly: “It’s almost like being the president. You see them and they look great. And then four years later, they got the image, and they look old as hell. That’s how I feel right now.”
Yet, despite that feeling of aging, Julius Randle is excited about what the future holds for the Knicks.
“We’re not that far off,” he explained when discussing what this season taught him about the NBA landscape. “That’s motivating for me in a sense because, in my mind, I’m like, how can I be the best version of myself to help the team win? So I go into the offseason, you know, you dissect that.”
But he also acknowledged that beyond him and how he can help, the Knicks are putting together a core of talent that could make them a real contender.
“We’ve got a great mixture of talent. We’ve got young dudes. We’ve got guys who are going into their prime. So we’ve got a great mixture of guys, but it’s like, how can you keep getting better? What worked in the postseason and what didn’t?”
But a big part of the excitement Julius Randle feels about the Knicks’ future is connected to the presence of Jalen Brunson.
“He just made the game a million times easier for me. A million times,” Randle admitted. “I didn’t have to work every single time down the possession…When you got to go get it every single possession, and then you on the other end, too, you gotta go guard both games. But JB just made the game so much easier.”
With both Randle and Brunson signed to long-term contracts, the Knicks hope the two stars can continue to learn to play well off of one another, and it’s possible that Randle’s downtime watching film will allow him to see how he can be more impactful for the team. Perhaps we’ll see fewer isolation sets or more off-ball movement like Butler uses in Miami to get clean looks.
If Randle is indeed determined to grow his game and improve to make himself more efficient, then there is certainly work to be done, but the end goal appears enticing for the left.
“[The Knicks] ain’t won in 50 years,” he explained. “That’s what drives me. We got a little taste of that as a team, so it’s like, how do we get better?”
The answers to those questions need to start with Julius Randle if the Knicks have any shot.
For more Knicks coverage, like this Julius Randle article, visit amNY Sports