Julius Randle, Knicks still searching for answers amid early-season struggles

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Julius Randle holding ball near his shoulder white uniform
Julius Randle holding ball near his shoulder white uniform

If you’re an optimist, you look at the Knicks’ shoddy early-season play and say that they have plenty of time to figure it out. You point to last season, when the Knicks started off 7-8 and finished with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

If you’re a pessimist, you look at their two home losses to the Orlando Magic and see a flawed team that’s destined to take a step backward this season.

There’s evidence to support both theories.

If you’re looking for factors behind the Knicks’ recent slide, listen to Julius Randle talk about the offense after Wednesday’s loss:

“It doesn’t feel like the flow and the chemistry is there yet. It’s sometimes it’ll be intended; (You’re) trying to let the other person do their thing, play off of him. Sometimes we see things happening in the game and you get overaggressive.

“Everybody’s heart and intentions (are) in the right place, (but) you get overaggressive trying to make things happen out there. And you’re just trying to figure it out, but s--t, that’s just offensively.

“Defensively, I don’t understand (why the club is struggling). That’s my thing. You look to the first thing I said when we started the season at the beginning of the year, I said we will be fine if we play defense. I said it from Day One of training camp and that’s really what it is.

“They scored 104 points, but what’d they have -- 18 points off second chance, 21 points off of turnovers? Thirty-nine of your 104 points come off of that. That’s a lot. It’s tough. But we’ve got a great group of guys, everybody is together. Everybody likes each other.

“We come in, we work hard, everybody do all that. We’ve just got to continue to figure it out. Keep our hearts in the right places. It’s a long season. Fifteen games (in). I know it feels like the end of the world here in New York, but it’s 15 games in.”

Based on what the Knicks did in the offseason, it was reasonable to expect them to fall off a bit on defense. The club felt that it upgraded the offense by adding Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. And the hope was the improvement on offense would outweigh any regression on defense.

And maybe that’s how it ends up for the Knicks when we get to April and clubs are jockeying for playoff position. Maybe the offense is clicking and the defense is serviceable. But the club has been inconsistent on both ends of the court so far this year.

“It’s just weird out there right now. That’s the best way I could describe it. It’s just kind of weird and just a little bit choppy and we’re just trying to figure it out,” Randle said of the Knicks’ offense. “I think everybody’s hearts and intentions are in the right place. It’s just a little weird right now. We’re just trying to give everything we have and figure it out.”