A major factor in the blossoming of Knicks forward Julius Randle into an All-Star has been his improved passing, contends Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Randle is averaging a career-best 5.9 APG this season.
Vorkunov credits Randle’s excellent aptitude for last-second passes, frequently distributed nanoseconds before he lands from his jumps. The extended timing is designed to attract defenders away from his passing targets. “A lot of coaches hate that,” Knicks reserve guard Derrick Rose said. “But I’m somebody [who has] been doing it for a while, too. As long as his turnover ratio isn’t greater than his assist ratio, I feel like it’s alright. He makes smart decisions. He’s delivering the ball.”
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- The Raptors already appear to be playing with an eye towards next season as their play-in tournament odds continue to shrink, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. One sign is the team’s willingness to experiment. To wit, head coach Nick Nurse has tried new center Khem Birch as a fast-break ball handler of late. The club is 26-38, three games behind the 10th-seeded Wizards with just eight games left to make up ground.
- After the Jazz defeated the Raptors 106-102 yesterday, the Knicks will officially at least make the league’s play-in tournament, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. This will mark the team’s first postseason appearance since 2013.
- Though the Celtics anticipated that rookie first-round draft pick Aaron Nesmith could be an instant contributor as a shooter, he has made more of an impact with his hustle on both ends of the floor. A. Sherrod Blakely of the Boston Sports Journal examines the disparity between Nesmith’s anticipated skill set at the next level and the reality thus far. “I’m happy for him because it seems he has found a role with those guys now,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “It’s not the role we thought it would be or the role the Celtics thought it would be, but give him credit, he’s figured out a way to get on the floor which is huge for a rookie.”
- Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said on Saturday that he appreciated the recent performance of Jalen Harris in limited minutes, and hopes to find more time for the rookie guard during the season’s home stretch, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.