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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Johnny Dawkins Has Found Himself A Guard

After spending 10 years coaching at Duke from 1998-2008, Johnny Dawkins has spent his last few years on the west coast trying to emulate some of the success at his alma mater. It has been a rough process as Stanford has had marginal success in his four years, finally posting a respectable 69 RPI last season after a strong finish that resulted in the NIT Championship.

Part of the strong finish had to do with freshman guard Chassan Randle, who scored 15 points on 6-11 shooting in the championship game against Minnesota, a good defensive team. Randle is a different guard than what Stanford is used too - maybe the most dynamic since Brevin Knight - a guard who can score with ease and also play some point guard.

He is the kind of player that Dawkins has been after since coming from Duke. A top 100 recruit from outside of Stanford's recruiting grounds in Chicago. A change of pace from the laid back California guards who act as floor generals and floor spacers.

Ever since Dawkins witnessed Randle first handle dropping 34 points in high school in the sectional finals for the win (Randle's Rock Island HS was a major underdog), Dawkins knew this could be a kid who could instill in the rest of the players what he wants his team to be about.

Randle displayed that killer instinct, swagger, and competitiveness that Dawkins had been missing since his days at Duke. At Duke, Dawkins had witnessed plenty of those types of guards run through his system - from Chris Duhon up to Nolan Smith - and Randle is a guy who could definitely play under Coach K.

Its funny, because the first player I thought of while watching Randle was Daniel Ewing. Both are scorers who can man the point. They both play like slashers, but also have a great shooting touch. Both have similar body types and that winning attitude.

Looking back and comparing their numbers - they are nearly identical.

Take Ewing's junior season and compare it to Randle's season last year. Ewing took 6.3 2-pt shots that year and 6.2 shots from behind the arc. Randle took 6.5 2-pt shots and 6.6 3-pt shots. That incredible balance and all around ability is what makes them both great scorers. They also both went to the foul line about 4 times (4.0 and 4.3 to be exact), while hitting at a solid clip (74% and 76%), but not as much as their 3-pt % would suggest (41.1 and 43.8).

The similarities are stunning to be honest. Rebounds, turnovers, and assists are also all nearly identical.

Randle mimics Ewing's game as well. Randle is like a Duke guard in that he can run the point, but has a lot of free will to score from his position. After playing mostly shooting guard last year for Stanford, Randle has been the point guard officially a lot more this year, but as a guard in the system, he is still free to do the same things. Just like how Nolan Smith and Ewing did in their days at Duke.

Randle is also a solid athlete with good size for the point guard position. His athleticism won't blow you away in the freakish sense, but he has plenty of quickness to get into the lane when he wants too. Randle isn't a true point but plays very smart and is saavy in the pick and roll game. He can turn the corner with long strides and has a great handle in the lane. Once he gets to full speed, he is a tough guy to get in front of.

Finishing the ball, Randle's long arms come into play. He is a good finisher because of his arms, but also because he can finish creatively with either hand. He can even put up a floater from both sides.

Defensively, he is a competitor and brings intensity. His length, lateral quickness, and smarts give him the potential to be an above average defender in the NBA.

Randle looks like a four year player and his potential isn't super high, but he could be a late first or early second rounder when he chooses to come out. And I like his chances to have a better NBA career than Daniel Ewing. But like a lot of scoring guards, it depends on the kind of situation he finds himself in.

(all stats used are from Draftexpress.com and based on 40 minutes of play adjusted for pace)

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