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Why Julius Randle should be in the 2023 All-Star Game

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New York Knicks forward Julius Randle smiles during the first half
New York Knicks forward Julius Randle smiles during the first half.
AP Photo/Abbie Parr

After a tumultuous end of the 2021-2022 season that saw him giving a thumbs down to fans at Madison Square Garden, Julius Randle is playing arguably the best basketball of his career and has endeared himself to Knicks fans again.

Just a week ago, chants of “MVP! MVP!” rained down on Randle as he stepped to the free throw line at the Garden. It has been a drastic turnaround for the player and fanbase in under a year’s time and is one of the better stories of redemption in the NBA this season. 

Except none of that seems to matter to All-Star Game voters. 

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On Thursday, the NBA unveiled the initial results for this year’s All-Star Game after the first round of fan voting. Julius Randle wasn’t even among the top 10 of forwards in the Eastern Conference. Jalen Brunson also wasn’t among the top 10 at guard, but that’s an argument for another time.  

It goes without saying that fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game should be taken with a giant grain of salt. After all, Derrick Rose made the top 10 Eastern Conference guards, and he’s playing just 13 minutes a game off of the Knicks’ bench. 

Still, the exclusion of Randle is noteworthy. Especially when players like the Magic’s Paolo Banchero and the Nets’ Nic Claxton were able to crack the top 10. 

On the season, Randle is averaging 24.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game on 46.2% from the field. He’s also making a career-high 2.7 three-pointers per game and shooting 35% from deep, which is the second-best mark of his career.

He’s also been getting better as the season is going on, averaging 28.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 36.5% from beyond the arc since December 1st. That has coincided with the Knicks putting together the 4th-best winning percentage in the NBA over that time, as Randle has become a driving force for the team’s success. 

For comparison’s sake, Banchero is averaging 21.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on 43.9% shooting and just 31% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Claxton is putting up 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game. 

Both players have been solid contributors for their teams but nowhere near the level that Randle is playing at. 

The Knicks’ power forward is top 20 in the entire NBA in scoring and top 10 in rebounding. He’s also top 20 in the NBA in three-pointers made per game, one of only three forwards to crack that mark.  

If you want to dig into advanced stats, Randle’s Player Impact Estimate is 7th among all Eastern Conference forwards, behind the typical names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Jason Tatum, Pascal Siakam, and then also Bobby Portis. 

Randle’s offensive rating is 5th among Eastern Conference forwards and his rebound rate is 6th. FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR metric, which “uses play-by-play and player-tracking data to calculate each player’s individual plus-minus measurements and wins above replacement,” while accounting for playing time gives Randle the 4th best Wins Above Replacement mark among Easter Conference forwards, behind Durant, Antetokounmpo, and Kristaps Porzingis. 

His overall RAPTOR score, which factors in offense and defense, puts him 6th among Eastern Conference forwards, so he’s contributing among the best in the league beyond just the traditional stats. 

Yes, his defense remains inconsistent, and he has been too isolation-focused in late-game scenarios, but anyway you slice it, this has been a tremendous season for Julius Randle, far better than most could have imagined. While he’s not the superstar that guys like Durant, Antetokounmpo, and Tatum are, he deserves to be on the court with them for the NBA All-Star game. 

The next voting update will be revealed on January 12th, so there is still time for Knicks fans to support Randle. Fan votes consist of 50% of the lineup determination for the game, and all voting can be done at the NBA’s official site.

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For more Knicks coverage, like this Julius Randle article, visit amNY Sports

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle.
New York Knicks forward Julius Randle.AP Photo/David Zalubowski