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NBA Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz: The Case for Taking Julius Randle In 2014 NBA Draft

 

Julius Randle Utah Jazz NBA Draft 2014

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

I need to make a confession: in the early stages of the 2014 NBA Draft process, Julius Randle was my prime target as related to the future of the Utah Jazz.

Sure, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were at the top of my draft board, but with it seeming unlikely that Utah would find themselves in any kind of position to make a play for the top guys, Randle was a player that I zeroed in on. I’m a fan of known quantities, and despite some of his defensive shortcomings, the Kentucky big man struck me as the kind of player you can dump the ball to and consistently get two points.

In many ways, I subscribed to the Zach Randolph comparison. It took Randolph a few years to get rolling and he has defensive shortcomings of his own, but he’s been an All-Star, a 20-10 guy, and the starting power forward for a Memphis Grizzlies team that has made some surprising playoff runs. If the Jazz can get that kind of player with the fifth pick in the draft, that’s a win for them.

But the thing we have to ask ourselves is whether or not Randle can be that kind of player in the NBA.

At the NBA Draft Combine, he was measured at 6-foot-7 without shoes. While not a major red flag, it might give some Jazz fans pause given their team’s history of utilizing the slightly undersized Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap at the power forward in recent years.

Where Randle makes up for this is in his agility, footwork and impressive leaping ability. His max vert at the combine measured out to 35.5 inches, which is comparable to Blake Griffin‘s combine measurement. In his workout with the Lakers, his vertical improved to 38 inches. Not bad for a guy who allegedly requires foot surgery.

Jumping ability aside, most of Randle’s work in the paint for the Wildcats came below the rim. In college, he was able to bully his way to the hoop using both his size and his footwork. This might be redundant for the Jazz as long as Enes Kanter remains on the roster, and it is unknown whether or not he’ll be able to muscle his way around down low against NBA bodies, but his offensive prowess at Kentucky was undeniable.

His shooting ability and screen-roll potential could make him a great fit for a Jazz offense that looks to incorporate more ball screen action under Quin Snyder. Randle’s mid-range game and ability to maneuver and finish with either hand could make him an excellent piece in both pick-and-pop as well as pick-and-roll situations. He has also shown an ability to run the floor, which would be a welcome addition considering the somewhat mixed results that Kanter and Derrick Favors have had in that regard.

Do I still think he’s the guy for the Jazz at No. 5? Perhaps. There’s a lot of talent in this year’s draft and Utah’s frontcourt is crowded, but if Randle is equal to his potential, he could be the guy for the Jazz.

Ryan Aston covers the Utah Jazz for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @MrMaryKateOlsen or add him to your network on Google.