Julius Randle is ready to put behind his struggles during his first season with the New York Knicks. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle is ready to put behind his struggles during his first season with the New York Knicks.  And getting coach Tom Thibodeau’s stamp of approval is certainly a great confidence builder for the much-maligned forward.

Randle has impressed Thibodeau with his work ethic and how he is approaching this offseason.

Thibodeau revealed that Randle was the earliest Knick to show up.  He’s spent time with the new coaching staff even before the start of the organized team activity approved by the league for the “Delete Eight”.

“He’s a pro’s pro. He’s in great shape. He’s willing to work and do anything that you ask.  I think having that type of leadership is important for our team,” Thibodeau said during his Zoom call with media on Tuesday.

Randle took a lot of heat from the New York fanbase after he regressed this season following a career year that earned him a three-year, $63-million deal with the Knicks.

The six-year veteran still did post near double-double averages with 19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds but only shot 28 percent from deep.  He also posted a career-worst 3 turnovers per game.  But it wasn’t entirely his fault as he was put in an extremely difficult situation with an in-fitted roster.

With the team moving to a new direction under Thibodeau, it appears that Randle will play a major role if he’s not moved in the offseason

“We need consistency from our entire team, and we also need for everyone to continue to improve and I think he’s shown that.  He demonstrated that to me in the past three to four weeks,” Thibodeau said. 

Aside from enjoying Thibodeau’s trust, Randle now also has Kenny Payne in his corner.  Payne, the “big man’s whisperer” and the right-hand man of John Calipari, has been a steady influence and has played a major role in Kentucky being able to consistently produce lottery picks and NBA stars.

One of those lottery picks was Randle who was selected as the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Now on his third team, the veteran forward hopes he’s finally found a home.

This article first appeared on Empire Sports Media and was syndicated with permission.

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