SBM Sports: 83 Reasons Julius Randle is Overrated

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Fabian McNally stops in this week to offer his insight on highly touted college basketball player Julius Randle. Follow him at @FabianMcNally for his insights into sports, or to roast him…whatever.

Julius Randle came into the college basketball season ranked, by many, as the 3rd best collegiate prospect behind Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Three games into his college career, he’s averaging 24 points and 14 rebounds in just 30 minutes a game, including 27 and 13 against top-ranked Michigan State in a nationally televised coming out party on November 12th.

On the heels of that performance, Randle has many wondering whether he deserves to go #1 overall, and he’s being compared to the likes of Chris Webber(!). ESPN’s Chad Ford has gone so far as to say “…Randle’s a legit contender to be the #1 pick in the draft, and if [Randle] plays every night like he did in his first two games, all 30 teams in the NBA will want to get their hands on him.” To Ford’s credit…he’s half right.  All 30 teams SHOULD want to get their hands on Randle…but under no circumstances should he be a contender for the #1 pick in the draft.

Even if he plays every night like he did in his first two games, as I suspect he will.

More important than any amount of points scored and rebounds bounded by Randle this season is the following number: 83.

83 is Randle’s wingspan, measured in inches.  Due to his relative lack of foot speed and perimeter skills, Randle projects as a Power Forward in the NBA.

Here is the list of Power Forwards to make the All-NBA 1st, 2nd or 3rd team over the last 11 seasons: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, David Lee, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Elton Brand, Chris Webber.

Here is that same list, excluding anyone with a wingspan greater than 83 inches:

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Ok then. Let’s try something else.

Here is the list of every Power Forward with a wingspan of 83 inches or less drafted since 2006: Mike Scott, Tomike Shengelia, Tobias Harris, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Tomislav Zubcic, Trevor Booker, Luke Harangody, Dante Cunningham, Taylor Griffin, DeMarre Carroll, Jon Brockman, Darrell Arthur, Trent Plaisted, Donte Greene, Maarty Leunen, Craig Smith, Jason Smith, Carl Landry, Donte Greene, Glen Davis, Reyshawn Terry.

Julius Randle, D.J. Cunningham Well…if you consider Marcus and Markieff as one player, their combined 23 points and 12.7 rebounds per game are just about equal to what Kevin Love and Blake Griffin have been giving the Timberwolves and Clippers, respectively.

Now, this isn’t to say that Julius Randle won’t be good, but it should throw some water on the effort to place him on the same level as Wiggins, Parker, Exum, etc.  Jay Bilas jokes aside, wingspan is extremely important.

Randle’s wingspan is likely to affect his ability to defend, as I would argue it has with Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, both guys (with 83.25 inch wingspans) who have frustrated NBA fans with their lack of shotblocking and general defensive contributions.

His wingspan is also going to limit his offensive potential as he won’t be able to get his shot off against stronger, taller, longer, faster NBA athletes consistently. The most effective offensive Power Forwards from the All-NBA list above tend to fall into at least one of the following groups: Extremely long, freak athlete, or great shooter/perimeter skills.

The good news for Randle is that he’s young, so…he might not be done growing. The other bit of good news is that while he’s unlikely to suddenly develop into a freak athlete, he may yet figure out the shooting/perimeter skill aspect. However, I watch him bully his way to eye-popping stats against physically inferior competition that will never sniff the NBA. And while scouting report after scouting report focuses on his size, strength and imposing physicality, I can’t help but think that any team or analyst that discusses him as the potential first pick in this year’s draft has a fundamental misunderstanding of what works at the NBA level.

Are you convinced? Will Randle be worthy of the top pick in the NBA come June? Give me your top pick in the comments below!

 

Draft Express proved an invaluable source on finding player measurements for this article.

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  • jdoubleu

    Weren't they describing Anthony Bennett as a freak athlete too last year?…

    The problem with propping up 18, 19 year old kids is that yeah they're freak athletes among their peers. But at the pro level, it doesn't always translate. In my opinion, what makes Randle impressive more than anything else is his handles. He's built like young Charles w/ a 2 guard's handles. Plus like you said, he's not done growing. For most rookie bigs, it'll take a couple years for him to develop a consistent shot from outside the paint (unlike A. Bennett who is a pretty good outside shooter). If the Cavs were to have the #1 pick, then Randle wouldn't be it. But I could see him in Utah
    My recent post Agent Diaries: After The Contract Signing, Then What?

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    Jabari easily looks like the best pro prospect. i agree that for Randle he needs to start shooting in the gym, in this NBA that 18 footer is no longer just an asset its a prerequisite, unless you’re z-bo because who wants it with z-bo.

  • Chris

    What Julius Randle lacks in his wingspan, he makes up for it with his athleticism and physicality. He could grab 10 boards in an NBA game today. And outside of Lebron and Blake Griffin, what extremely long and athletic power forwards were on that list? (LBJ isn't a PF by the way). And Julius Randle can shoot the ball a little bit… his jumper isn't broke so guys like Lamarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love will have just as much trouble defending him too. Nothing about Julius Randle is overrated.

    • Fabian M.

      Extremely long: Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand

      For the athleticism caveat, I had Blake and LeBron in mind but you're not permitting me to use them.

      Randle may be able to shoot the ball a bit, but he needs to be able to shoot it an elite level, IMO. The two best shots in the NBA are the 3 and anything close to the rim. I think Randle's height/wingspan combo is goign to result in him getting his shot blocked/altered a lot when is around the basket. So, I think your counter to that might be that well he can step out and shoot it. My argument is that even if he can step out and shoot it, unless you're saying he can shoot it from 3 there's still a big problem. It's difficult to be a great offensive player when the majority of your value is in your ability to "shoot the ball a little bit" from the mid-range/long 2 area.

    • Fabian M.

      If everything breaks right, I think Randle has a shot at being a better/more athletic Z-Bo, but that's not a franchise player. If the reports are correct about all the potential picks (Randle included), then a guy like that shouldn't receive 10 of a possible 39 votes for the #1 overall pick in a draft featuring Wiggins, Parker, Exum, which is exactly what happened in Chad Ford's column today.

  • Dr. J

    1st and foremost, Lebron and Melo aren't Power Forwards.

    Please hold.

    • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

      technically Melo plays the 4, but yeah

    • Fabian M.

      Last year, Carmelo played 2481 minutes and 45 seconds. 2322 minutes and 47 seconds of that time was spent at Power Forward. Last year, LeBron played 2878 minutes and 54 seconds. 2191 minutes and 36 seconds of that was spent at Power Forward. I counted both players as power forwards based on their roles/minutes last year when both made All NBA. YMMV.

      • Dr. J

        But neither of those guys are Power Forwards. They spent time at the 4, but there is nobody in the world of basketball who will ever regard them as a PF.

        "You know, next Tim Duncan, Lebron James might have been the best PF to play basketball."

        - Said by no one not ever.

        • Fabian M.

          If someone plays the overwhelming majority of their minutes at 1 position…that's what I'm going to refer to them as for that season. During their careers they have both played the 3 far more than any other position, but they were pretty clearly playing the 4 last year.

  • CHeeKZ Money

    Fabian my n-word, but your list of below 83 inches is obsured. Not one of those players could be considered a bust when they had no upside. None of those players had a franchise caliber skill set, like randle is said to have. I am concerned with his height in general though, triangle numbers are important.

    I will say after last night, I am effing with Marcus Smart more and more.

    • Fabian M.

      That's a fair point that none of those players were said to have the upside Randle does, but I still think his wingspan is a huge red flag. There's a reason why literally EVERY star 4 in the league has a long wingspan and/or wing skills or extreme athleticism.

  • M D

    Are we really doing this after 3-4 games? And he's already 6'9" but to measure his potential off of 3-4 games and his wingspan sounds ridiculous. He's got that nasty streak and post moves, and will get better with Calipari's coaching. Just watch.

    • Fabian M.

      If I was making a judgment based on his statistical performance, then I would agree that 3-4 games is much too small a sample. But his physical attributes are what they are and players are regularly evaluated on this basis. Part of the appeal of Wiggins, for example, is that he has a 7'0" wingspan and that is going to allow him to likely be an exceptional NBA defender.