Knicks believe Jalen Brunson, Derrick Rose will ease burden on Julius Randle

Julius Randle used the words “easier for me” earlier this week when discussing what the addition of point guard Jalen Brunson and a healthy return for veteran point guard Derrick Rose would mean for him this season.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau also believes that having those two players in his rotation will lessen the ball-handling burden for Randle, who has led the team in assists — but also turnovers — in each of the past two seasons.

“The more offensive weapons that you have, it makes the game easier for everyone, and then the other thing, too, is we’ve got to get him some easy scoring opportunities,” Thibodeau said of Randle, who averaged 5.1 assists and 3.4 turnovers per game last season. “When he had the ball [last year], I think he had a lot more attention, particularly coming off the year he had [in 2020-21]. Teams were locked into him pretty good.”

Randle earned a first-time All-Star nod and copped the NBA’s Most Improved Player award with a breakout 2020-21 campaign in which he led the Knicks to a 41-31 record and their first playoff berth since 2013.

nba, sports, derrick rose, jalen brunson, julius randle, new york knicks, knicks believe jalen brunson, derrick rose will ease burden on julius randle

Julius Randle

Robert Sabo for the NY POST

Elfrid Payton was the primary starting point guard that season, but the offense largely ran through Randle, who finished with career-bests of 24.1 points and 6.0 assists per game.

Since-departed veterans Kemba Walker and a square-pegged Alec Burks were used largely in the point guard role last season. Rose appeared in just 26 games, and none after undergoing ankle surgeries in December and February. Randle endured a step-back year, sparring with officials, the media and fans while his numbers dipped and the Knicks finished out of the playoffs at 37-45.

“We want [Randle] to score a lot of different ways, so not just with the ball, but moving without the ball, running the floor, cutting, and that sort of thing,” Thibodeau said. “I think that’s one of his strengths, his speed and athleticism.

“If we can get him into those positions, I think we can get some easy baskets where he doesn’t have to work as hard as he had to work last year. I know with Jalen and Derrick, that helps a lot.”

nba, sports, derrick rose, jalen brunson, julius randle, new york knicks, knicks believe jalen brunson, derrick rose will ease burden on julius randle

Jalen Brunson

Robert Sabo for the NY POST

nba, sports, derrick rose, jalen brunson, julius randle, new york knicks, knicks believe jalen brunson, derrick rose will ease burden on julius randle

Robert Sabo for the NY POST

Rose is expected to form the Knicks’ second-team backcourt alongside Immanuel Quickley. Thibodeau envisions that combo “playing fast” on a unit also featuring third-year forward Obi Toppin, who again will open the season as Randle’s backup at power forward. Thibodeau already has played down the possibility of Randle and Toppin playing together this season.

“There’s different aspects of your team. You want your team to play to its strengths and cover up its weaknesses, so they have to function together and create shots. Your primary scorers have the responsibility of making plays for the team,” Thibodeau said. “The one thing I do like about [Brunson] is I think he can control and manage the offense really well. I think that’s been one of his strong suits throughout his career, whether it was high school, college or the pros.

“He can play both with the ball and off the ball and Derrick can do the same thing. I think that will be a big benefit. We’re hopeful Derrick can be healthy throughout the course of the season.”

Rose, a former MVP entering his 15th NBA season, has dealt with injuries for much of his career. Brunson, whose father Rick was added to Thibodeau’s coaching staff this summer, landed a four-year contract worth $104 million via free agency after a strong finish to last season, including a run to the Western Conference Finals, with the Mavericks.

“It’s great. Obviously, those guys will get us started,” Randle said earlier this week. “They’re our point guards. They get us into everything. They’re a huge voice on the court, so I’m really excited to have those guys on the Knicks.

“Me and [Rose] had great chemistry last year and even more so the year before, so I’m always excited to suit up and get on the court and play with him. He’s a special, special talent. And obviously, we know what Jalen brings to the game and what he will bring to our team. … Just getting to know each other and stuff like that, it’s been great.”

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