New York Knicks: The Case of Julius Randle vs Kristaps Porzingis
One is currently playing for the New York Knicks and the other formerly played for them. Julius Randle is currently the Knicks power forward and is having an All-Star season. Kristaps Porzingis was the Knicks’ former power forward from 2015-2018 and was an All-Star in 2018.
The Knicks traded Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in February 2019 and then signed Julius Randle in the summer of that year. The Knicks were hoping that Porzingis would be the next franchise player. But now Randle is having the season for the ages and could possibly be the next great Knick, assuming the team doesn’t trade him. Randle is only 26 years old, so he is just entering his prime.
Do the Knicks currently have the better power forward in Randle? I think so and here’s why.
Porzingis is taller at 7’3 but Randle is stronger and is more suited to be a power forward. Even though he lost many pounds in the summer, Randle still weighs 250 pounds compared to Porzingis’s 240. Thus Julius can definitely handle physicality better than Porzingis. Porzingis with his thin build has not been able to handle physicality throughout his career. Shorter physical players like Draymond Green and Marcus Smart have been able to neutralize him despite their smaller height. With Randle, there are no such issues with his still big build.
As a result, Randle has been much more durable than Porzingis. Kristaps has been injury-prone throughout his NBA career. He’s never played more than 72 games in a season. In his days with the Knicks, he played 66 games in the 2016-2017 season and only 48 games the following year when he tore his ACL in February and missed the rest of that season. This year with the Mavericks, he missed the start of the season with an injury. Other than his rookie year when he only played in one game after injuring his leg on Opening Night, Randle on the other hand has been durable for most of his NBA career. He played in 81 games in the 2015-2016 season when he played for the Los Angeles Lakers and then played in all 82 games in the 2017-2018 season. And this season with the Knicks, he’s played in all 32 games so far. So Randle has been more durable and less injury-prone than Porzingis.
So far this season, Randle’s stat numbers have been pretty incredible. He is currently averaging 23.2 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. He’s been getting double-doubles in points and rebounds in most of his games. Porzingis is currently averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. So while both of them are averaging over 20 points per game, Julius is still averaging more points as well as rebounds and is way ahead of Porzingis in assists.
Better All Around Game
Both players sort of has different styles of play. Porzingis usually likes to roam around the perimeter and take outside shots. He has incredible range for a 7’3′ man. Porzingis will occasionally score inside with his height. He can run and drive to the lane at times with his thin frame. But he mostly likes to roam around the perimeter. Randle is a better all-around scorer. He can score inside and he’s improved his outside shot. This season he’s shooting 41% from three-point range. So that’s made him more unstoppable as a scorer. Randle also dribbles the ball pretty well for a power forward and that’s allowed him to play point forward with his drives to the lane and passing skills. Speaking of passing, Randle definitely has the edge on that. Defensively once a liability, Randle has improved in that category with more effort. Porzingis is still the better shot blocker but not a good one-on-one defender. In fact, the Mavs defense is a minus stat when Porzingis is on the floor.
One of the reasons the Knicks traded Porzingis, was his attitude. Towards the end of his Knicks tenure, Porzingis and his brother have been a distraction to the team with some of their remarks even when Kristaps was away from the team while recovering from ACL surgery. When he mentioned that he didn’t want to be in New York anymore, that was the final straw for him in the Big Apple. Porzingis’s relationship with the Knicks slowly started deteriorating after he skipped the team’s exit meeting after the 2016-2017 season and the dysfunction with the two sides only grew each following year.
Randle meanwhile has been a great teammate this season. At the start of the season, he was willing to take rookie Obi Toppin under his wings even though they play the same position. And his unselfish play on the court has brought more camaraderie with his teammates. He’s trusting his teammates more and they have been more involved offensively as a result. Julius has been smiling more this season and his teammates have followed suit. You can see from the Knicks bench going wild with joy when one of their teammates on the floor makes a nice play. More unity among the players has been a reason for the Knicks’ improvement this season and since Julius is the team’s best player, he deserves a lot of credit for that.
And this season, Randle is an NBA All-Star and Porzingis is not. Also, the Mavs have actually been trying to trade Kristaps, which could possibly give him 3 teams in 3 years. With Randle leading the way this season, the Knicks have a chance to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They have never been this close to competing for a playoff spot during Porzingis’s time in NY.
What do you think? Who do you think is the better player Julius Randle or Kristaps Porzingis? Leave a comment below.
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