Prospect Examination: Julius Randle

Posted by Clevis Murray on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 with No comments

"Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart, but growing up as a kid," Randle said as he declared for the NBA Draft. "there's always been my dream to play in the NBA, and there's no better opportunity for me to achieve that goal than now."

"I came here to win a national championship. I came here to mature on and off the court, and I did that," Randle said. "I came (up) one game short of winning a national championship, we did as a team. But everything we went through this year was just an experience I'll never forget. That alone kept me at peace."

Before declaring for the draft, Kentucky freshmen forward Julius Randle took his time talking to many to help him make a decision; but ultimately Randle is another one-and-done” player. Randle had a tremendous season leading the Wildcats to a 29-11 record but a better NCAA Tournament as he led his freshmen dominant team to the championship game for the first time since 2012 but difference is, he lost and the 2012 team won.  

But in general, Randle was a man among boys this season and was constantly in Beast Modeshowing that he should've deserved the hype in which Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins received from the media and fans. Despite the lack of recognition with his tremendous play the Dallas native has cemented himself as being one of the first few players called in June on draft day as he is elected to be in the Top-5. Watching Randle play and looking at his stats, it's quite evident that he showed inconsistency in his lone season with John Calipari.

League scouts are worried with the 6'11" wingspan which is shorter than other undersized NBA bigs — Paul Millsap (7'1.5"), Brandon Bass (7'2.5") but other players with a exceptional skill-set have a wingspan smaller than 7'0" — Blake Griffin (6'11.3"), Kevin Love (6'11.3") and Thaddeus Young (6'11.5"). Basically Randle is going to need to improve his game vastly if he doesn't want to be lunch meat in the league where veterans and youngsters truly learn the meaning of NBA "No Boys Allowed." Now notice, the players who are either undersized in height or have a wingspan below 7'0" can make perimeter shots and rebound at a high rate, but Randle can't shoot as he shot around 30% outside the paint.

Randle was the best player on a very young Kentucky team which started five freshmen (sound familiar) and gained a abundance of comparisons to the University of Michigan's Fab-5 from the 1990s. Randle shared the spotlight Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young and Dakari Johnson; but it's clear that Michigan had the better Fab-5 with Chris Webber and Jalen Rose but that's another discussion for another day. At 6'9", 250-pounds Randle was thought of to dominate college basketball at his position but didn't do exactly that but did put up respectable stats.

Year
PPG
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
13-14
15.0
10.4
1.4
0.5
0.8
0.500
0.167
0.706

Advanced stats
Year
PER
TS%
USG
TRB%
ORtg
DRtg
WS
13-14
24.5
0.567
25.4
19.2
115.9
97.8
5.9


Randle's true value is under his opponents basket on the offensive end as he is bigger than most of his defenders as he plays Bully Ball” with his 250-pound frame. Randle uses his left hand to get hit shot up and can take contact from defenders and end up at the free-throw line as he scored half of his 599 points there. He has no problem getting into position on the left or right block. But the ugliest part of his game is his jump-shot as it's just flat out weak but if he improves it then he will become a threat on the defensive end of the floor, Randle won't lead the league in blocks but will be a good rebounder and post-defender of that end.  

Just by reading this so far you could tell that Randle is very limited compared to other prospects and just like other soon-to-be draftees he has his notable weaknesses. Many believe Randle would use his intimidating stature more on the low block instead of trying to become a stretch-4 and take jump-shots because at this stage in his development that's not his identity but is could be once he's with a shooting coach. It's quite clear his shot is his huge weakness, but he can become obsessed with it. Randle's obsession with the mid-range is the equivalent to a guy trying to flirt with a girl but not getting the hint that he has no chance because she's not into him but possibly over time if he changes something then he might have a chance.

A major physical problem for Randle which he couldn't control is his wingspan which is ultimately the reason why he has the defensive stats he does. The short arms of Randle has become subject to criticism as he has been called "T-Rex" for his great height and weight but small arms. Just because of his arms, he will struggle on both ends of the court as he will struggle to shoot over his opponent, drive to the hoop etc., which is a good reason why he probably likes being close to the rim.

When drafted Randle will bring toughness, strong rebounding, strength and handles to whoever team takes him. His former college coach John Calipari believes Randle was "Shaq'd" this season as he was alluding to him being constantly double and triple teamed. Randle is a intriguing prospect nonetheless as he was great strengths and scary weaknesses and his defensive skills and shot are a work in progress.

"I think he's the surest thing in the draft," one GM said. "There's nothing he can't do and there just aren't that many bigs in the NBA with that set of skills. He's going to be a 10-time All-Star and will make a major impact on your team in Year 1. Wiggins might have a little more upside and [Parker] is so attractive as well, but if you take someone else, you're really risking your job."

"He's NBA ready, and he's going to be a top-seven pick in this draft," ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford said. "When you look at the motor that he has and the NBA body that he has and his ability to rebound, those are attributes that NBA GMs salivate over. Could he improve his game with another year at Kentucky? Sure. But I think he's one of the two or three most NBA-ready players in the draft."

Best Fits: Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers or Orlando Magic

NBA Comparisons: David Lee, J.J. Hickson, Carl Landry, Zach Randolph and Brandon Bass