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Kawhi Leonard On Julius Randle Being Inspired By Him: “That’s Great. That’s What We Here For. To Inspire The Guys That Come In Behind You. You Could Definitely Tell How Much He’s Working.”

(via Sky Sports)

(via Sky Sports)

Even though the season hasn't ended yet, most people assume that Julius Randle is about to be named the NBA's Most Improved Player.

Randle went from putting up empty numbers to becoming an All-NBA kind of player and one of the main reasons behind the New York Knicks' resurgence. And, according to his own words, he drew inspiration from Kawhi Leonard's title run with the Toronto Raptors:

"I really watched a lot of Kawhi and his championship run with Toronto, and for me watching that, it helped me learn what I really wanted to be specific about as far as being able to get to spots on the court," Randle said on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast, as quoted by Sports Illustrated.

The Kentucky product said that he studied the game and worked on his craft to become a more complete player, rather than just driving and attacking the rim as he used to do earlier in his career:

 "Last year was a big learning experience for me, like, I can’t just bully to the rim every time — it’s not going to be just shoot threes or bully to the rim. I’ve got to have some kind of in-between game where defenses load up on me, I can get to my spots and rise," he added.

Clearly, his new approach is working, as he's now being double-teamed on every possession and checked by some of the best defenders on earth.

And, when the media told Leonard that he was an inspiration for Randle's surge, he said that he was glad that he made an impact on him and acknowledged that he's a much-improved player now:

"That's great. That's what we here for. To inspire the guys that come in behind you... You could definitely tell how much he's working," Kawhi said.

Randle got a much-deserved All-Star selection this season after averaging 23.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 three-pointers per game on 46/41/80 splits while also leading the league in minutes per game and minutes played, and the Knicks will be a legit threat as long as he's healthy.