New York Knicks star Julius Randle said the franchise needed a hard-nosed head coach like Tom Thibodeau to command the respect of a young roster.
Randle stated the Knicks have desperately needed Thibodeau’s style of coaching to maximize their full potential, adding his teammates have shown a willingness to embrace that style:
“That’s what we need,” Randle said, via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “We need to be coached. We need to be held accountable. So if we’re not doing our job, he’s going to tell us about it. That’s how should it be. We should hold each other accountable as well. The standard that we set every day, and we have to live up to that. We have to do the right things every day.
“We can handle it. We’re not a fragile group. We’ve been doing it all year.”
Indeed, Thibodeau’s demanding nature–especially on the defensive end–has become quite apparent to Knicks youngsters such as R.J. Barrett:
“Oh man,” Barrett said when asked about playing defense for Thibodeau, via Vorkunov. “It’s some hard work. It’s real.”
However, the hard work has paid off… and then some.
The Knicks finished the regular season ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating and first in defensive scoring average. Thibodeau has helped instill another level of scrappiness and fight in this Knicks team, just as he did during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls.
Of course, it helps to have a guy like Randle playing at the peak of his powers. The 26-year-old is very likely headed for Most Improved Player honors and has earned effusive praise from Thibodeau himself.
There were some questions about how Thibodeau would handle a young Knicks roster heading into the season. Those questions have been erased.