Knicks’ Julius Randle is named to All-Star team as Eastern Conference reserve

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Stefan Bondy, New York Daily News
·3 min read
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The Knicks’ surprising season has produced an All-Star.

Julius Randle, who is putting up career highs in points, assists and rebounds, was among the Eastern Conference reserves named by the coaches, who emphasized winning and availability over reputation with their selections.

The 26-year-old will be a first-time All-Star at the game in Chicago next month, and the first Knick selected since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018.

Future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade went out of his way to gush over Randle and credit coach Tom Thibodeau during the TNT broadcast to reveal the selections.

“Julius has been in the league for seven years. And we saw flashes from Julius in L.A. when he was there but now you get a coach that really puts the ball in his hands, puts it in his sweet spot and allows him to become the player we knew he could be when he was drafted.”

Randle, who was averaging 23.2 points, 11 boards and 5.5 assists before Tuesday’s game against the Warriors, always had a strong case but wasn’t a lock. Even in a weak Eastern Conference, several players could claim being snubbed, namely Miami’s duo of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, Atlanta’s Trae Young, Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.

Randle received a $945,000 contract bonus for the selection, which helps explain why he and the Knicks were campaigning so hard for the honor. Despite the PR push, Randle finished in the fan voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players. The players vote had him lower – eighth – behind Detroit’s Jerami Grant, Butler and Adebayo.

The media had the most respect for Randle, giving him a tie for fifth in its voting with Tatum. But Randle said a coach’s selection wouldn’t equate to validation from his peers.

“I think I get that validation how they play me every night. With the double teams,” he said. “How they try to game plan. All that type of stuff. Obviously the All-Star nod would be amazing. Every player strives to do that, or whatever the case may be.”

Randle had put up big numbers the last two seasons, especially in 2018-19 with the Pelicans. But he was never considered for an All-Star spot until this awakening under Tom Thibodeau, with Randle taking the lead role on a team that has exceeded expectations.

He’s also played in every game and leads the NBA in minutes.

“It’s the impact on winning. I know how his teammates feel about him, I know how the coaching staff, our organization, our fans feel about him,” Thibodeau said. “He’s certainly being recognized in our eyes and hopefully the rest of the league will see it that way. But he’s had a monster season and he’s the engine that makes us go.”

EAST SELECTIONS:

STARTERS: Kevin Durant (Brooklyn), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia) Bradley Beal (Washington), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn).

Reserves: Julius Randle (Knicks), James Harden (Brooklyn), Jaylen Brown (Boston), Jayson Tatum (Boston), Zach LaVine (Chicago), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)

WEST SELECTIONS:

STARTERS: LeBron James (Lakers), Luka Doncic (Dallas), Kawhi Leonard (Clippers), Nikola Jokic (Denver), Steph Curry (Golden State).

RESERVES: Anthony Davis (Lakers), Dame Lillard (Portland), Paul George (Clippers), Chris Paul (Utah), Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Rudy Gobert (Utah), Zion Williamson (New Orleans).

Brooklyn’s James Harden, Boston teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Chicago’s Zach LaVine, Philly’s Ben Simmons and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic were the other East reserves. The starting lineup was announced previously as Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving.

— Team captains Kevin Durant and LeBron James will draft their teams out of the above pool, with starters going in the first round and reserves in the second. James has the first pick of the starters and Durant will have the first pick of the reserves.