After going down with a dislocated shoulder against Miami on Saturday, New York Knicks star forward Julius Randle is going to miss some time. While he was still able to contribute 19 points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes of action, the Knicks will now need to find a way to fill the production and impact Randle has brought throughout the season.
Before Randle dislocated his shoulder after an awkward fall on a layup, the Knicks had been one of the hottest teams in the NBA. OG Anunoby has fit into his role seamlessly and has added depth to the defense, which has elevated them as serious contenders in the East. With Randle going down, it is going to take more than one piece to step up.
Since acquiring Anunoby, Randle has been averaging nearly 25 points per game on 48% shooting from the field and 37% beyond the arc. The Knicks have the No. 1 defense in the NBA in terms of defensive rating and their 12-2 record is the best mark in the league over the last 14 games. Their offense has also gotten a significant boost too, now a top-ten unit in the NBA with a 117.9 rating.
The role players that have taken a step back for Randle will now need to fill much bigger shoes than before. This starts with Anunoby filling a more prominent role on the offensive end. Since coming to New York, Anunoby is averaging 15.6 points per game on 11.2 field goal attempts. Expect to see the volume for Anunoby increase greatly over the next few games.
Another role player who should look to be the beneficiary of this new-look offense is Quentin Grimes. Grimes has had to sacrifice his normal volume for most of the season given the structure of the Knicks offense and how much Randle demands the ball. Grimes averaged 8.5 field goal attempts per game last season, which has dropped to 6.2 this year.
As a whole, the Knicks will see an uptick in guard production because that is the spot where they currently have the most depth. It will be impossible for one person to match the production that Randle brings, but instead for the Knicks to play a more guard-oriented offense that relies on speed and spacing the floor.
While the numbers for players like Anunoby and Grimes will certainly increase, it’s important to keep in mind how the Knicks got to where they are and what has made them successful throughout the season. They have been at their best when their defense is locked in and sparks offensive success. Anunoby has taken their defense to the next level and that responsibility on the defensive end will only grow for the former Raptors star.
Lastly and most importantly, after being snubbed as an All-Star game starter, Jalen Brunson is going to need to put his best foot forward and prove just why he was the biggest snub this year. He will have the full undivided attention of all opposing defenses now, making his job that much harder than it was before.
With a lot about Randle’s injury still unknown, it’s paramount that the Knicks stay afloat for the time being until they can get Randle back in the lineup. Until then, everyone, especially the role players, will need to increase their productivity and step up when their name is called.