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The Knicks have Julius Randle. New Orleans has Zion Williamson.
Ex-Knicks enforcer Charles Oakley prefers New York’s lefty power-forward freight train.
“I think (Randle’s) a better version of Zion Williamson to me,” Oakley said Monday on SiriusXM Radio. “Because he can do more. Zion is just hype in the league. But in the playoffs, he’ll be just like the Greek Freak. They’ll have the wall for you. First of all, Zion Williamson got to get the playoffs.”
Earlier this month, Randle’s Knicks beat Williamson’s Pelicans twice in four days, even though the Knicks were betting underdogs in each contest against a Pelicans team not even in the top 10 in the West.
The Knicks, now in fourth place in the East, are finally awakening the league. Randle, after making his first All-Star team, is expected to win Most Improved Player and get a spot on one of the three All-NBA teams. There’s now a push for him getting on MVP ballots to confirm the chants he’s heard since the Garden opened to fans on Feb. 23.
“I said last year, (the Knicks) didn’t have a superstar,” said Oakley, who has spent years criticizing the Knicks. “And now they got a superstar. Congratulations. He’s left-handed and they can’t stop him because these guys don’t want to stand in front him. Once you make one move, he can get to the rim every time.”
Randle leads the NBA in minutes as he will play in his 61st of 62 games Monday vs. Phoenix. Randle has five triple-doubles and is averaging 24 points, 6.0 assists and 10.5 rebounds in the best season any Knick has had since Patrick Ewing.
Oakley, who has feuded with owner James Dolan, acknowledges Basketball New York – Nets included — is getting closer to the glorious 1990s. Oakley starred in that Knicks era as arguably the NBA’s top defensive player when Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach.
“They’re moving the needle,” Oakley said. “Brooklyn is winning because they’ve got three, four superstars. New York is winning because they have a great coach in Thibodeau. Thibodeau was always a guy who knew defense. If you want structure, you need a veteran coach. Just look at what Nate McMillan is doing at Atlanta.”
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