With the Knicks entering the final stretch of the season, the playoffs and the end of the season are getting ever so closer, leaving some questions left unanswered.
One of these questions is asked about every team, every season. That being, who has been the best player for New York in 2022-23?
Obviously, this question is split between two players on the Knicks roster, Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson. These two have not only been the best players for New York this season but have also been some of the premier players in the entire league.
This is a rather tedious question that has little-to-no effect on the season, however, breaking down their games has been so fun that we figured it would be interesting to ask the question.
Who has been the Knicks’ best player in the 2022-23 season? Julius Randle or Jalen Brunson?
This is an incredibly tough question to answer, as both of these players have rather different games on both sides of the ball while also bringing their own pros and cons.
We’ll start with Julius Randle, who in 64 games, is averaging 25 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 46.3% from the field and 34.7% from three on 8.1 attempts.
Alongside his incredible offensive season, Randle has also been much improved on the defensive side of the ball. He may not be an All-NBA level defender, but he is certainly not a negative on defense.
Randle has been nothing short of incredible this season, making his second All-Star Game and potentially being in line to make yet another All-NBA team. While Randle may unfortunately not make the All-NBA roster this season, he is undoubtedly having a better season than that of his 2020-21 breakout year.
As for Jalen Brunson, he is having just as good of a season, averaging 23.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.2 assists while shooting 48.5% from the field and 41% from three on 4.6 attempts.
Brunson may not be as good of a defender as Randle’s been this season, but he certainly isn’t a liability on that end and has honestly looked somewhat good on that side of the ball in recent games.
I honestly don’t know how Brunson didn’t make the All-Star Game as usually when a player puts up numbers this good, they are seemingly a lock for the game. However, apparently, the NBA didn’t deem Brunson fitting.
Regardless, real fans know just how good he’s been this season and the fact that he is even in the discussion for the best player on the Knicks with how well Randle has played next to him this year is incredibly impressive.
So, who has been the Knicks’ better player this season?
The answer to this question is more difficult to come to a conclusion on than you’d think, and honestly, the best way I can break their games down is like this. If you’re looking for a more consistent offensive player who will give you an efficient 20+ points while providing great playmaking, then Brunson is your guy.
However, if you want a player who has the potential to drop an uber-efficient 30 points every night while also being better on defense, but may occasionally have a stinker game, then Randle is the guy for you.
The league average field goal percentage this season in the NBA is 47.4% according to Basketball Reference. Brunson has played in 26 games where he has shot below league average, and Randle has played in 38. While this isn’t necessarily a negative, as the league average for this season is incredibly high compared to years past, it does help prove the point I made before.
It’s hard to pick a side in this debate, as they have both played incredibly well. However, the edge may honestly have to go towards Brunson simply for his play in the clutch and his levels of consistency.
Don’t get me wrong, when Randle has it going, he is the far better player. However, during this season as a whole, Randle has had far too many bad games to confidently put him over Brunson.
If we’re talking about the last 40 games of the season, then I’d probably give it to Randle, but his slow start to the season makes it rather difficult to give him the edge over the ENTIRE season.
The consistency and playmaking that Brunson’s brought to the Knicks since signing with the team is something we have not seen in ages. He has instantly made this New York squad way more entertaining to watch than in years past.
Keep in mind that when I put Brunson over Randle, it is not by some sort of wide margin. It was difficult to come to this decision and if someone were to tell me that they think Randle has been better, I wouldn’t argue. It’s the little things that have helped give Brunson the edge throughout this season.