Former Nets forward Richard Jefferson has trolled the Knicks plenty in the past. But appearing on ESPN’s Knicks-Mavericks telecast Friday, Jefferson said Julius Randle has emerged as an All-NBA player, even if as a third-team guy.
Jefferson is a little late to the party as he pontificated while Randle rang up 44 points in Big D.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said in early March that Randle is having an “All-NBA season.” That honor doesn’t get as much acclaim, but is a bigger accomplishment than All-Star, because each All-NBA pick is considered one of the best 15 players in the league. More specifically, Randle would be among the top six forwards.
The accolades should continue to come after Randle became a first-time All-Star in March. He also has emerged as a leading candidate for Most Improved Player.
A greater honor, however, would be his selection as a forward on one of the three All-NBA teams. LeBron James is a given despite his absence with a hamstring injury, as are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard.
After those three, Randle could beat out Zion Williamson, who visits the Garden on Sunday, for the second team if the Pelicans don’t make any portion of the postseason and the Knicks lock in at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference.
Jayson Taytum, Jaylen Brown and Jimmy Butler are third-team candidates. Kevin Durant won’t have played enough games to be a real consideration.
Randle has five triple-doubles and is averaging 23.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. He also doesn’t get enough credit for his durability, though he has played in 56 of 57 games as the Knicks’ iron horse.
His playmaking and deep shooting are the two elements that have transformed him into a budding superstar in his seventh season at age 26.
In his past three games, facing two of his former teams, the Lakers and Pelicans, and then playing in his hometown of Dallas, Randle averaged 36.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and shot 52 percent from 3-point range.
Because of HIPAA laws, the Knicks declined comment if Alec Burks was forced to quarantine in Dallas because of COVID-19 protocols as the team flew home Saturday. Burks is officially listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Pelicans.
Earl Monroe, Knicks legend, joined Twitter recently and already has an edge. After Randle outclassed Kristaps Porzingis in every category on Friday, Monroe tweeted: “Is it just me or has Porzingis gone from franchise player with Knicks to functional skilled big with the Mavs?”