Falling just short of winning a National Championship, Kentucky freshman Julius Randle is now faced with the decision of whether or not he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Though Randle is denying recent reports that he’s made his choice, the general consensus seems to be that the bruising forward is bound for the pro ranks.
In his lone season with the Wildcats, Randle was incredibly impressive. The power forward put up 15 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Particularly at the college level, Randle was a physical force that could rarely be contained and may have the most NBA-ready strength and body of any projected lottery pick.
Randle really proved himself in the tournament. Not only did he outlast the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker in the tournament, but he was also the catalyst for Kentucky’s surprise run to the title game. With what he was able to do this year and in March, Randle may have played himself into being a higher pick than many have projected.
According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, one NBA executive said that Randle was actually the second prospect on his draft-board behind Joel Embiid. Howard-Cooper noted that this wasn’t a consensus among every team in the league, but Randle’s drive when he’s on the floor has left quite a few teams moving him up on their boards.
Randle is an interesting case among the projected lottery picks. From Wiggins to Embiid, to Aaron Gordon and—to a lesser degree—Parker, many of the prospects’ value comes from their vast potential. Randle on the other hand has the physical tools, energy, and skills that can make him successful right away. With that, though, comes the fact that there may not be as much upside with Randle as a prospect.
Some executives, or maybe just the one, have Randle at number two in this draft-class, but it’d be hard for me to imagine him being selected over Wiggins and probably Parker as well. For teams at the top of the lottery, getting an NBA-ready possible All-Star is great, but they need a player that could potentially develop into a cornerstone for a franchise. Maybe Randle can be that, but there seems to be more of a chance of that happening with his fellow prospects. Make no mistake, though, Randle won’t be on the board long when draft night rolls around.