We continue this week with our March Madness series. Yesterday, we profiled UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson. Today we look at a more traditional power forward in Kentucky freshman Julius Randle.
Randle came into this season as one of the most heralded freshmen in this year’s class, and was expected to lead Kentucky to a great season. While the team struggled, Randle thrived, and was a double-double machine this season.
Randle has been viewed as one of the top picks all season, but lately many have him rated slightly below the likes of Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, and Andrew Wiggins. If he continues to carry the Wildcats into the Final Four, that may change.
Randle is a throwback power forward in the Zach Randolph mold. At 6’9 and 250 pounds, he has an NBA-ready body and is not easily moved off the block.
He has a vast array of post moves, and can score both facing up or with his back to the basket. And while he hasn’t shown it much this season, he has the range to knock down the 15-17 footer consistently.
He has underrated athleticism and has no problem elevating to finish at the rim. Contact does not bother him and he has also improved as a passer, learning to find the open man when teams focus their defense on stopping him.
Arguably his best trait, however, is his rebounding. He is great at using his athleticism, length and strength to come down with rebounds in big crowds. Rebounding is the statistic that translates well to the next level and Randle averaged more than 10 per game.
He has a great motor and rarely takes plays off. He also has a solid handle which helps him when taking someone off the dribble.
Despite having all of the tools you need to be an elite defender, Randle continues to be below average defensively both on and off the ball.
As with most young players, he doesn’t have a great feel for angles and positioning which tends to leave him arriving late, or chasing blocks. He also tends to reach instead of moving his feet when he gets tired.
Speaking of tired, Randle, at times, doesn’t always seem to be in the best of shape. This may have something to do with not being on a full time workout regimen like he would be in the pros. Sometimes that makes all the difference.
Randle also has a tendency to fall in love with the jumper. While he has that in his arsenal, he is far more effective when he is mixing everything up.
Sometimes NBA scouts have a tendency to look so much at potential, that they overlook when someone is producing. That may be the case with Randle.
He has been just as good, if not better than, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid, all of whom are looked at as superior prospects.
Randle has everything you want in a real power forward. For a Lakers team that may be in dire need of a post scorer if Pau Gasol leaves, Randle could step right in to that starting role and thrive in a team filled with veterans.
Randle is also an excellent rebounder and the Lakers sorely need someone who can control the boards on both ends of the floor.
Randle reminds me a lot of Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee. Randle simply produces on offense and can be a consistent 20-10 guy if given the opportunity. With a little seasoning, and some time spent around a great leader in Kobe Bryant, Randle could be the big man the Lakers can build around for years to come.
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