The Whiteboard: Julius Randle have ball, will travel

New York Knicks, The Whiteboard

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A traveling call on Julius Randle with 3.2 seconds left in the game robbed the New York Knicks of a chance to force overtime against the Brooklyn Nets. Randle was furious and the call was at least somewhat questionable, the kind of quirky circumstances that neither refs or players likely encounter very often. But the practical implications — Randle called for a traveling violation — is unfortunately familiar for Knicks fans.

Randle’s tendency to spin into traffic, shuffling his feet through defenders, has been a sore spot for the past two seasons, and even in the midst of a breakout season this is has been a somewhat consistent problem. He’s currently tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the league lead in traveling violations (18). Randle has never led the league in traveling calls before but he’s usually among the league-leaders.

Julius Randle gets called for traveling, a lot …

In fact, if we look at the entire span of his career (excepting his one-game, injury-interrupted rookie season) Giannis is the only player who has been called for more travels. From 2015 through the present, Giannis has been called for 146 travels, Randle has been called for 106, and only one other player (Gorgui Dieng) has more than 90.

Getting called for a travel in huge moments isn’t an isolated incident either. Over that same span, Randle has been called for seven travels in high and very-high leverage situations — the same as Giannis, despite handling significantly less creation responsibility on clutch possessions.

The interesting question is whether reputation plays a factor here. It’s (generally) accepted that the reputation of certain players as hotheads, handsy defenders, etc. affects the way they are refereed, despite the best efforts of the officials to maintain impartiality. Does Randle’s reputation as a prolific traveler mean he’s less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt on a close call?

I don’t know the answer, but watch the crucial call from last night’s game again and let me know what you think…

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