Julius Randle says hapless Knicks not out of playoff race – MMA Fighting

PHOENIX — Julius Randle was adamant the season isn’t over with 20 games left and the Knicks five games in the losing column on 10th place — the last play-in spot.

Randle would have a stronger point if the Knicks played better and didn’t face a six-game road streak in four time zones, going 50-12 in Phoenix on Friday. The Suns are without Chris Paul, who has a thumb injury, and Devin Booker, who has COVID-19.

Randle said his glass was “half full”.

“Why don’t we [be in the playoff race]?” Randle said after losing to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. “When we have the opportunity to compete for something, do it, no matter what situation we are in right now, if you have a chance to compete for something, you keep competing. Even if you’re not, you’re still competing. At least me personally, that’s who I am.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver extended the game format for that reason — to keep teams like the Knicks from tanking in March.

Julius Randle

But the Knicks are in that tank territory when it’s no longer a crime to consider getting young and not caring about wins and losses as much as development.

The consolation prize for this season could be Jaden Ivey, the star-studded 6-foot-4 Purdue combo guard, who is a top-four pick and could fill the club’s massive hole at point guard.

Of course, the Knicks have their eye on Ivey as well as another stallion who could fit perfectly in Jabari Smith, Auburn’s explosive 6-10 power forward. His selection would allow the Knicks to reassess whether Randle is a long-term answer. Smith is solidly projected among the top three or four picks.

At 25-37, the Knicks would enter the lottery as the eighth seed with a 23.5% chance of making the top four. The playmaker will be the priority in the draft, and second Ivey is averaging 17.4 points and 3.1 assists.

Matt Babcock, a longtime former agent who is now Basketball News’ draft expert, told PostPlus in December that Ivey looked like a perfect addition to the Knicks.

“He’s so athletic and plays with a good pace,” Babcock said. “I would say he’s in the same mold as a player like Donovan Mitchell. It has the potential to be very dynamic. It currently looks like there’s a good chance that Ivey will be the first guard selected in this year’s draft. ”

The Knicks are 3-16 in their last 19 games, and Randle caught the eye after the Philadelphia loss when they gave up 68 points in the second half, a lack of defensive identity they had established. last season by leading the NBA in several defensive categories.

“He’s a bit lacking,” Randle said of defensive grit. “But everyone has to come and do their part. It’s hard. The guys are really talented in this league. …You keep the MVP [in Joel Embiid]. Obviously, this puts a lot of pressure on your defense. But can’t give up. This should never be the option. I just have to keep fighting until we find a way.

“We can’t go into games thinking we can beat people.” “I think a lot of it comes when you get the ball out of the net,” Randle said. “You’re always up against a set defense, it’s really difficult. So it’s hard when the pace is slow. I think our rhythm starts with our defense.

Randle said the Knicks point guards’ problems look worse than they are due to their inability to defend.

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Julius Randle says hapless Knicks not out of playoff race – MMA Fighting