NBA Position: PF
General Information: 19 year old freshman, played at Kentucky. From Dallas, Texas.
Measurables: 6'9", 250 lbs, 7'0″ wingspan, 8'9.5″ standing reach
2013-14 Season Statistics: 15.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 2.5 TOPG (30.8 minutes per contest) - 50.0% FG, 70.6% FT, 16.7% 3FG, 56.7% TS
Summary: A bruising Power Forward with the best post game in the draft, Randle was considered a lock for a top three draft selection before the beginning of the collegiate season. While an inconsistent year knocked him down the Draft boards, he still remains the best post scorer and one of the best rebounders in the class.
Offensive Breakdown: Randle is a beast in the paint, possessing both great strength and a wide-array of post moves. His low-post game reminds me a lot of DeMarcus Cousins-he's not a fluid athlete, and creates for himself with herky-jerky but effective movements. Randle is not an above-the-rim player, and lacks the explosive verticality to be a dunking threat against NBA big men, but his bulk makes up for that weakness. He's keenly away of his physical strength, and sets himself up well with his body mass and good footwork. Even as he enters an NBA where he'll be shorter than many of his opponents, he'll be a scary post presence.
His major flaw in the post; he's extremely left dominant. Even when he sets himself up to go up with his right, he'll slide back to his left. This makes him easier to guard and much easier to predict, and with any instinctual habit it'll likely take a few years of Coaching before he's comfortable going up with his right.
His biggest offensive flaw is his lack of a jumpshot; while he actually took more jumpers (49.5% of his offense) then he took post shots (45.9%), he was relatively ineffective and made only 34.5% of his jumpers. As the year went on he starting taking more and more jumpers to try and show some consistency, but it never materialized. He compensates a bit by being exceptionally quick, and he's effective at attacking the basket from the perimeter, so he'll keep defenses a bit more honest.
There is hope for him as a shooter thanks to his success at the free throw line; his physical offense sent him to the line 7.2 times a game, and he made 70.6% of them. If he develops at least some consistency on a jumper, he could transition from an excellent post weapon to an excellent offensive weapon.
Randle often became a black hole offensively, and when he zeroed in on the basket it was more-than-likely not leaving his hands. Even when defenses completely collapsed in on him, he rarely looked for outside shooters. He'd also attempt to play point guard and take the ball full-court once or twice a game, and considering his poor handles, this wasn't effective. His decision making and ball-control need serious work-per 40 minutes, he averaged 3.3 turnovers a game.
Defensive Breakdown: Despite having the bulk to be a good post defender, Randle needs work. He's not as physical on defense as he is on offense, and his size disadvantages are more obvious as a defender. He never was absent on the defensive end, but he doesn't have the best defensive IQ; he was just as likely to get burned as he was to stay solid with his opponent. Under the right Coaching, he has the quickness and toughness to be an solid defender, but his defensive awareness needs to be cleaned up. He's also not a great shot-blocker, producing just one per 40 minutes and finishing with a 2.6% block rate.
Randle is most NBA ready as a rebounder, and he was one of the best in the nation. He's a force on the glass, snagging 10.4 boards a contest and a 19.2% rebounding rate (an insanely close second to Noah Vonleh, who had a 19.4% rate). He was most impressive on the offensive glass, where he averaged 3.5 a game and a 13.3% rate. He was insanely aggressive going after his own misses, and his tenacity on the boards will help compensate against taller opponents.
Intangibles: Randle was hyped as a top three selection before the season, mentioned in the same tier as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Like most years, this season's Kentucky team was built on talent and not on fit. The Wildcats had serious struggles all year long, and Randle was no exception.
To his credit, even in his worst games (In January he averaged 12 points on 45% shooting) he was never completely invisible, and he scored less than 10 points just five times. He made a resurgence in the NCAA Tournament and was the Wildcat's best player in the run, although he did struggled in the Championship loss to UConn (10 points, six rebounds on 3-7 shooting).
With his offensive skills, Randle is one of the more NBA ready players, even as he'll have to adjust to playing guys taller and as strong as he is. While he didn't have the best body language and showed his emotions in his play, he was by all accounts a hard worker and a good teammate.
Fit with Sacramento: Offensively, I don't love the current fit next to DeMarcus Cousins, but it would have serious potential. In the ideal world, Cousins' post partner would have a consistent jumper to help spread the floor, but aside from Noah Vonleh or Adreian Payne that is lacking in this crop of Power Forwards. I also worry about adding another black-hole post player next to Cousins, especially one who hasn't show great passing instincts (10% assist rate) or good handles in the paint (16.1% turnover rate).
If Randle works on his jumper and is Coached to look for open teammates when the defenses collapse in on him, he and Cousins could become a dangerous duo. He'd give Cousins a teammate with the same fiery passion to dominate the paint and the glass, and considering how much Cousins plays outside the paint, the two could be effective even before Randle smooths out his jumper.
Defensively Randle needs a lot of work, and he isn't the lock-down defender the Kings are looking for. With time to work on his defensive awareness, I expect he'll become an adequate defender. On the glass, Randle is the best in the class. Defense aside, he's more NBA ready then any of the big men in the Draft aside from Adreian Payne or Dario Saric; he'll produce immediately.
Even if the fit isn't perfect, it would have great potential. If available at pick No. 8, Randle would almost certainly be the best player available. With his excellent post skills and dominance on the glass, I expect Randle will end up in the top half of the NBA's Power Forwards.