Julius Randle is having the best season of his career. He's averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and three-point shooting and he's been named to his first All-Star team. He's the main reason the New York Knicks, who are currently tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference, are .500 this late in the season for the first time since the Carmelo Anthony era.
If there was ever a time to overreact to how good Julius Randle is, it is right now. On Sunday morning Brandon Tierney, of CBS Sports Radio's Tiki and Tierney, appeared to do just that by asking if peak Chris Bosh was better than peak Julius Randle. If you have an immediate, visceral reaction dismissing this opinion, you are not alone. Tierney has been getting ratio'd all morning.
It's understandable to have a visceral reaction to this claim. Chris Bosh is a beloved personality, two-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer. But here's the scoop and I'm gonna tell ya, this is a legitimate debate.
Bosh and Randle have put up similar numbers throughout their careers. Yes, Randle has never been to the playoffs and Bosh has won titles, but that is also misleading. Bosh made the playoffs twice before he signed in Miami. Both times he was a first-round exit. Randle to this point has never played with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
Right now, we're in the midst of Randle's best season. 23.4 points, 11 rebounds, 5.5 assists. He's shooting 41% from three on 4.5 attempts per game. Bosh never averaged that many points, rebounds, or assists. He never shot the three that well or that frequently. He did, however, sign with the Heat to be the third option on a championship team.
Like with Tierney's original tweet, I worry this will be seen as Chris Bosh slander. It is not. It is a celebration of Julius Randle, who like Bosh, has always been an extremely talented player. Both guys are left-handed power forwards from Dallas, Texas. Both were lottery picks. Bosh languished in Toronto while Randle broke his leg in the first game of his rookie season and suffered through the ugly era in Los Angeles that took place between the Kobe Bryant and LeBron James eras.
Now in his sixth full season, Randle is excelling under Tom Thibodeau. In Bosh's sixth season, he played 77 games and averaged 20 and 10 and the Raptors went 33-49. After his seventh, he became an unrestricted free agent and ended up in Miami. Randle will also be a free agent after his seventh season. Maybe he'll go join a superteam. Or maybe the pieces will finally be in place for the Knicks to be the home of a superteam because of Randle.
Whatever happens, there is currently an argument to be made that Randle is a better player at his peak than Bosh was. Maybe he'll never come close to a championship because he never plays for an incredible team like Bosh. Maybe his career will tail off as he approaches 30 for some reason. Maybe this is a small sample size and his numbers this season will all drop below Bosh's career high. Or maybe the highly touted John Calipari recruit that turned into a lottery pick and an All-Star will continue to get better and make this discussion seem silly. Just not for the reasons it might seem today.