You have probably been hearing about Julius Randle for a few years now. If you’re a fanatic like me you were hearing he could be the #1 pick in the NBA Draft coming out of high school. He was the athletic power forward every college wanted, so of course he ended up at Kentucky.
He had a good but not great year for a Wildcat team that struggled with consistency during the regular season. They were able to figure things out in time to dance to the NCAA championship game, losing to Connecticut. Big Blue’s uneven year, combined with recent rumors about a foot injury that did not heal properly, have caused Randle’s draft stock to drop (more on that later). Suddenly he may be available when Charlotte chooses at #9.
Watching Randle play, his aggressiveness stands out. If he gets the ball on the right block, either get out of his way or he is going through you. I promise he is stronger than you are. He averaged 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this year and led the SEC in defensive rebounds per game.
GMs know what they are going to get with him, an athletic forward that couldn’t be stopped in SEC play. He’s improving his midrange game and as yet is not a 3-point shooter. His shot chart below from ShotAnalytics.com shows he’s a beast in the paint…but otherwise not much of a threat to this point.
That same aggressiveness can also get him into trouble. Opposing coaches know guarding Randle 1-on-1 is a bad idea so defenses collapse on him. Randle tends to put his cape on and shoot it anyway, at times getting the dreaded black hole label.
He is considered a good defender but not a shot-blocker. He has good strength and foot speed and keeps opposing PFs and Cs out of the lane. The draft websites often compare him to David Lee, whose defense is legendarily bad in the analytics crowd. But all the scouting reports make sure to commend Randle on his D, so take that comparison as you will.
Reading his strengths, sounds like someone copied Al Jefferson’s scouting report from 2004. Great player with dominant hand (Al with his right, Julius a lefty). Doesn’t use off hand. Great scorer on the block. Big body. If anything Julius is the more athletic version. Both players measured 6 foot 9 pre-draft with Randle weighing 10 pounds less at 250.
But wait! Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnaroski reported last week that a foot injury Randle had from high school never healed properly, leading some GMs to get cold feet. This also admittedly lead to the current article you are reading. This foot problem is the top reason he may be available for Charlotte. Randle took to twitter to debunk the report:
I never do this but it was brought to me and it's crazy how people put stories out there and have no clue what they are talking about.
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) June 12, 2014
The truth is we don’t know what’s going on with his foot, but it does seem to be spooking some teams. Randle keeps insisting he’s fine and will not need surgery.
If he’s there at #9, would the Hornets be getting the next Big Al, a ready-to-contribute PF that Al and assistant coach Patrick Ewing could tutor in the coming years? The thought of building around Randle, MKG, Kemba and Cody long-term would bring lots of optimism for the new Hornet era.
Or would Charlotte get the worst case, an injury prone ball hog that can’t get his shot off over the size and length of the NBA? I suspect he will be closer to the good version, but no one can be sure. And he has not been in for a workout with Charlotte. Here is his scouting report from DraftExpress:
This kid is a baller and has a reputation of being coachable and wanting to improve. What do you think? Should Charlotte draft Julius Randle if he falls to #9?
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