The New York Knicks are 10-7 even after surviving a rocky start from their All-Star forward Julius Randle, who — returning from off-season surgery — looked a bit like he was, um, coming off surgery when the season began. But Randle has persevered to find his groove, and quickly, and his partnership with superstar point guard Jalen Brunson has been exceptional.
In a strong analysis, Rit Holtzman (@BenRitholtzNBA) takes a look at how Brunson and Randle have moved away from the traditional Stockton-Malone pick-and-roll to work a new angle, by “splitting the top of the key” and taking advantage of Randle’s uncanny ability to attract defenders no matter where he is on the floor.
This consistent Randle magnetism allows Brunson to freelance from around the arc, sometimes diving on a sideline/corner run and sometimes popping or floating up top where Randle has created space to spare.
🚨Important Development🚨— Rit Holtzman (@BenRitholtzNBA) November 30, 2023
Julius Randle assisted Jalen Brunson 55 times last year. This season, 25 already, not even a quarter of the way in!
Well, NYK’s 2 fulcrums have found a way to play together, and it’s NOT via pick & roll. Keep reading to find out:… pic.twitter.com/XhQ05UWCtP
Seventeen games into the season, Randle has already gifted Brunson nearly half the buckets he gave him all last season, Holtzman points out. Brunson, notably, is averaging 18.6 shots per game so far this season, a career high.
As Holtzman puts it, as Randle draws the defense, Brunson bolts for freedom and “by the time the defender realizes that Brunson has moved, it’s too late.” The analyst adds that “thanks to JB’s incredible shooting development, he doesn’t need all that much space to knock one down.”