Sunday, July 22, 2012

NBA Scouting Report: Julius Randle

While at Peach Jam I had the opportunity to see Randle play twice in person, including the much hyped matchup against Andrew Wiggins. The first matchup was against Howard Pulley and Tyus Jones, where Randle's team lost in a close game.

In that game, Randle was by far the biggest player on the court. Howard Pulley is a team of guards and shooters that doesn't have any bigs that are near Randle's size or strength. Randle would post up from anywhere on the court, as deep as the foul line, and demand the ball. He bullied his way to the hoop and had no problems getting his jumper off either. He showed some simple posts moves when he got good post positions, moves that are predicated on his strength.

Randle is an absolute beast in the post and impossible to contain for most high school athletes. He can simply rely on his strength most of the time. Combine that with good ballhandling skills, excellent body control, and a solid, yet flat, jump shot, and you have a dominant force on the circuit.

When you look at his offensive game as a whole, he gets called an unselfish player due to his passing. Randle is a good passer and can find the open man off double teams. But just because a player passes the ball doesn't mean he is unselfish. Randle demands the ball each time down the court and shows terrible body language when he doesn't get his way. He stands out behind the three-point line just waiting for the ball to come to him, giving his team little option but to give it to him. Because of this, Randle hasn't shown the ability to move without the ball. Randle either hangs outside until he gets it, or uses his size and strength advantage to create a passing lane to himself in the post. Randle also refuses to come out of games and expects his coach to cater to him.

The negatives become more evident when he's asked to set picks. He makes no attempt to provide a detour to the man covering the ballhandler. He also refuses to roll off the pick or even pop. He just waits for the ball handler to give up, which he will due to the terrible pick, and then call for the ball at the top of the key so he can make his own play.

Once he gets the ball, Randle can drive from anywhere on the court. He is a very good ballhandler for a power forward and attacks the basket aggressively. For a small forward, his ballhandling abilities wouldn't be as good, but at this level he uses his size and off arm to shield defenders from the ball and send them flying back off contact.

Randle looks to drive every time. This was especially true going up against Wiggins in the overtime loss to CIA Bounce. Him and Wiggins battled all game, and Randle finished the first-half with zero points on two shots - one of which was blocked by Wiggins. Randle continued to try to bully Wiggins all the way to the hoop from the three-point line each possession and he turned it over a lot in the first-half. He set up his teammates for a few solid kickouts as well, but he was always looking for his shot.

And when that wasn't working, Randle didn't change up his game. He went right back to the drive and bully in the second-half. He should no signs of a pull up jumper from mid-range and didn't take Wiggins into the post at all. It seemed he had an agenda and that was to prove he can play on the perimeter against the top player in the world at his age.

Eventually, things started to go more in Randle's favor as Wiggins became worn down. Wiggins had to cover Randle while scoring 28 points and Randle went at him each time. Quite an exhausting task. Not to mention he was taking a beating everytime Randle drove at him. Everyone who has played basketball knows that one of the most tiring things to do is to cover a guy who gets the ball each time and uses his superior strength against you.

Randle in the meantime, used defense to take breaks. He covered one of the weaker CIA players. Randle isn't an imposing force on defense anyway and he has never been a great shotblocker. He has a short six-foot-10 wingspan, even with his broad shoulders. His strength and athletic ability can project him to be a solid power-forward on defense, however, if he chooses to put in the effort. I do not see Randle as a small forward at all and defense is only half of the reason why. Beckley Mason did a nice job for ESPN explaining the intricacies that go into defending small-forwards in the NBA. I can't imagine seeing Randle running through all those screens and guarding guys on the perimeter. He is a power forward through and through and even on offense I think he is better off there. Randle was, by a wide margin, the best rebounder at Peach Jam.

Randle eventually fouled out in overtime of the game against Wiggins. He had a few charge calls go against him and a lot of calls were really tough to make deciphering between an offensive or defensive foul. Randle was using his off hand and body each time while driving, but at the same time, he was getting swarmed and hacked himself. On one play late in the game, Randle was quadruple-teamed and somehow got the bucket and the foul. Randle does have great touch around the rim and is very good at finishing through contact.

A lot of Randle's strengths can be attributed to his size and strength advantage and in the NBA, he won't have such a distinct advantage. The other areas of his game don't show the kind of hope I'd like to see to believe he can adopt. Randle may have been a unselfish, good kid when he first bursted onto the scene. But by now, the accolades have gotten into his head and he has a prima-donna attitude. He isn't the first guy that has suffered from the hype getting to him and he won't be the last. But it is time for scouts to realize that Randle has changed from the guy who they first fell in love with when he first garnered national attention.

Randle is still a beast in high-school and AAU ball and should dominate college, just like Michael Beasley did. But just like Beasley, he thinks he is a small forward and lacks the energy on defense to be successful there. You can compare Randle to small forwards all you want, but he is a lot more of a young Zach Randolph or Beasley than he is Caron Butler or Carmelo Anthony. And that includes the character issues.

Randle stated he wanted to play for a coach "who lets me be me and will push me to be the best I can be." That is fine if you take it word for word, but what it really means is Randle wants full control of a team and to have complete free reign. He is not very coachable. He is who he is and wants to play that way.

Once he inevitably goes one and done next year after a stat-padding season, he most likely will be pegged a lottery pick. But I will be one person who won't stand fully behind Randle. It is time we recognize Randle's flaws.


  1. Great post. That ESPN article was very useful. I was thinking to myself, why not Randle at the 3.

    However, Randle looks a lot more fluid and quick than someone like Derrick Williams or Kenneth Faried. And he looks like he's got low body fat too...

    So I think the jury is still out as to whether he can play SF.

  2. Also Michael Beasley's problems is 100% effort (which you sort of touched on). He is quick and he is capable of playing SF, it's just he doesn't want to try on defense.

    There's no way in hell I can ever see Beasley doing anything at PF, he'll get destroyed on defense especially