New York Notes: Randle, Brunson, Vaughn, Simmons, DSJ

Two-time Knicks All-Star power forward Julius Randle continues to thrive for New York despite dealing with lingering knee soreness, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. He has played in all 19 of the team’s games thus far this season after appearing in 77 of 82 last year.

“You almost come to expect that from him. If he can go, he’s going,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And I love that about him. He wanted to get out there, and he warmed up early to see how he would feel. And then he got with the medical people. But Julius, he gives you what he has. He doesn’t take days off.”

New York even wanted Randle to rest the knee earlier this week, Bondy notes, but Randle rejected the idea. He’s averaging 20.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 5.5 APG for New York.

“[I’ll play] all the time,” Randle said. “I think it’s more we just love to play. It’s not really about load management. We just love to play basketball. Me personally, I love to play basketball, so if I can play I’m going to play.”

There’s more out of the City That Never Sleeps:

  • Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson has developed a gift for drawing charges, writes Bondy in a separate piece. He has already drawn 30 offensive fouls thus far this season. Bondy notes that he could be en route to a new NBA record. “Obviously I’m not meeting anybody at the rim. So I know I can impact the game that way,” Brunson told Bondy. “So whatever it takes to win, honestly. I find myself in that position and if I bail out, I’m bailing out on my teammates. So I got to be willing to take the contact and pray for the best.”
  • Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn is helping a young, talented team develop at a pace that’s perhaps quicker than pundits may have anticipated, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber exclusive). Third-year shooting guard Cam Thomas is enjoying a breakout season and looks like a potential candidate for Most Improved Player honors if he can keep this output up. He’s currently averaging 26.1 PPG on .464/.343/.846 splits, along with 3.9 RPG and 2.3 APG.
  • Oft-injured Nets forward Ben Simmons is still weeks away from returning to the lineup for Brooklyn, but reserve point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has returned, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Simmons has missed 12 straight contests with a lower back impingement. Smith had been dealing with a strained lower back for six games.
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