KEY POINTS

  • Julius Randle wanted a coach who would hold him accountable to push himself more
  • Randle is seen as an NBA MVP contender this season
  • The Knicks will make the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013

Before he entered the NBA, most already saw Julius Randle as someone who had a promising career.

However, his professional basketball career started on the wrong foot with the cager suffering a broken right tibia right in his first game with the Los Angeles Lakers.

From there, most felt that the seventh overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft would likely fade. Instead, Randle worked his way back into shape and showed what he can do.

Most criticized his style of play, one of which is that he lacked outside shooting. Also, his 6-foot-8 frame was seen as a liability since he was up against taller opponents.

When he moved out of the Los Angeles camp, Randle’s star started to grow. He established himself as a force with the New Orleans Pelicans, showing everyone that there is more to what he can do.

But his NBA superstar status was ultimately seen when he joined the New York Knicks.

In only his second year, Randle showed that even if he has been around, players can rise to the occasion and become a potent force.

But the former Kentucky standout did not do it alone. First-year head coach Tom Thibodeau played a role, a reason why he has now become the face of the franchise.

This season alone, Randle has played in 61 games averaging 23.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 37.5 minutes of action.

His shooting has also gone up astronomically, particularly from beyond the arc. He now owns a 41.8% clip from the three-point region, pretty far from his previous years.

Speaking on an ESPN podcast, Randle shared how he wanted a coach that would make him accountable.

It appears that Thibodeau did just that, one of the reasons why he has taken it up a notch.

Aside from that, there is also Kenny Payne, a former assistant coach at Kentucky who played a role in making sure that Randle is in top condition.

Julius Randle Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks looks to pass the ball Photo: Getty Images | Julio Aguilar

Those are some of the things that have contributed to the rise of Randle. He is now considered a frontrunner for the NBA Most Improved Player.

Some bat that he should also be considered for the NBA Most Valuable Player award although that could be tough to attain this year.

There will be arguments, but if Randle stays the course, an MVP award could be within reach.

But for now, the burly forward is more concerned about breaking the Knicks’ jinx of making the NBA playoffs.

New York is well on course of returning to the playoffs, the first time since 2013. At that level, Randle is expected to face tougher competition for him to prove that he is a legitimate NBA superstar.