Stephen A. Smith against Tom Thibodeau on the management of Julius Randle

The Knicks have developed a strong defensive identity under manager Tom Thibodeau and, for the first time in years, fans truly have something to expect every single night they set foot in Madison Square Garden.

And, while the manager deserves a lot of credit for such a quick turnaround, you also have to give his flowers to Julius Randle, as he was the best player on the team and even got his first All-Star nod..

That’s why ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith – who is also a well-known Knicks fan – is so worried about Randles’ load before the second half of the season, as Thibodeau is famous throughout the league for consuming his players before the playoff:

“You can’t have Julius Randle playing back to back, 38 minutes and 40 minutes a night like he did before the NBA All-Star break. You can’t make things like that happen, you don’t want to do it … You have to monitor the minutes the kids play because of Thibodeau’s reputation in Chicago. This is what you need to watch out for, “said Stephen A. Smith.

Stephen A. has a valid point here. Even though Randle is still only 26, Thibodeau has a history of completely draining the players of him. It can’t happen again.