Knicks' Julius Randle credits Tom Thibodeau for holding him 'accountable'

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Julius Randle tight shot
Julius Randle tight shot

Through 20 games this season, Julius Randle is on pace for career-highs in nearly ever statistical category you can find. Playing more than 36 minutes per night, he’s averaging a double-double a game with 22.2 points and 11.1 rebounds and is nearly doubling his previous career-best with 6.0 assists per game, as well.

He’s even connecting from three-point range on a relatively consistent basis, shooting 34.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Randle credits head coach Tom Thibodeau for pushing all the right buttons to get him on track for his breakout season.

“He's done a good job of putting me in positions on the court and playing me in good spots in general,” Randle said after Saturday’s practice. “But the biggest thing is just holding me accountable on a game-to-game basis to continue to push me to do more. Also, holding me accountable to bring leadership to the team.”

Thibodeau, meanwhile, gives all the credit to the 26-year-old, who has become the go-to guy for the Knicks on both ends of the court.

“He’s our engine,” Thibodeau said earlier this month. “He plays with a lot of toughness, and there’s a lot of multiple-effort plays that he’s making, but he’s also playing very unselfishly. If you cut and you’re open, he’s going to hit you. He can handle the ball, he’s got very good skills with the ball.

“Playing big minutes, comes in the next day and works, takes care of his body, great with recovery, great in the film sessions, and it’s the type of leadership that’s invaluable to a team.”

Randle has even turned some heads of people outside the organization, as well.

“The way he reacts to extra attention is like night and day,” an NBA scout told SNY’s Ian Begley. “Last year, he was trying to attack it by himself. This year, the exact opposite. ... Love the way he’s making reads and finding shooters. The shot selection is much better ... I know they love the shape he came (to training camp) in and it shows -- especially on defense. ... Credit to (Randle) for fixing what went wrong last season. Credit the Knicks and Thibodeau for putting him in the right spots. ... The East is crowded, but he looks like an All-Star.”

Randle will continue his All-Star push on Sunday when the Knicks play host to the Clippers at 1 p.m.