One hot button issue for Cats fans this season has been trying to compare Julius Randle to a player of the past. I’ve heard some good ones and some not so good ones, but today I want to look at the three comparisons that have piqued my interest most: Al Harrington, Zach Randolph, and Derrick Coleman. Let’s start with Harrington.
Credentials: 6′ 9”, 245 lbs., 13.7 career PPG, 5.7 career RPG, 25th overall pick in 1998 draft
Why the Comparison is Good: The two players are similar in build, with Randle standing at 6’9”, 250 lbs. Also Harrington, at one time, was extremely versatile on the offensive end, being able to score in transition as well as in the half court. These days, with his high age, Harrington relies on his perimeter jump shot mostly but there was a time where he was solid down low. To be honest, though, other than size and offensive repertoire the two don’t have much in common.
Why the Comparison is Bad: Comparing Julius Randle to Al Harrington is almost an insult to Randle. Harrington has never made an NBA All-Star game whereas Randle will almost certainly be a perennial All-Star. Harrington isn’t necessarily a terrific athlete and Randle is most certainly a terrific athlete with how he uses his size and strength to finish almost impeccably near the rim. Also for someone of his stature, Harrington has never been a double digit rebounder in the NBA, something that Randle will most definitely be. The high school comparison to Harrington, a 15-year NBA vet, was sweet, but now that we’ve seen what Randle can do at the college level the comparison is a bit dated.
Credentials: 6’9”, 260 lbs., 17.2 career PPG, 9.3 career RPG, 19th overall pick in 2001 draft
Why the Comparison is Good: Not only are the two similar in size, but they are both left-handed, which is why I think many people make this comparison. Don’t let that fool you, though, because there are some similarities in their games. Both players use their size and strength to bully through defenders in order to both finish at the rim and grab tough rebounds. They also both have terrific footwork in order to make good post moves to make a tough shot an easy shot. Also, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing, both players struggle a bit on the defensive end and don’t play with the same intensity on that side of floor than the offensive end.
Why the Comparison is Bad: With all due respect to Z-Bo, Randle is on a different level as an athlete when compared to Randolph. Randolph has pretty much maxed his potential as a 17-and-10 kind of guy, while Randle has the potential to put up the type of numbers that Kevin Love is. Also, Randle may struggle as a defender now, but his combination of size, length, and quickness are almost assuredly going to make him a good defender at the next level.
Derrick Coleman (before he got fat and useless)
Credentials: 6’10”, 230 lbs., 16.5 career PPG, 9.5 career RPG, 1st overall pick in 1990 draft
Why the Comparison is Good: In my opinion (which isn’t worth much), this is the best comparison for Julius Randle. For those that don’t know, at one time Derrick Coleman was in a similar position as Randle. Coleman was a sure-fire pick that was destined for greatness and a place in the NBA Hall of Fame. And then he got an attitude, and even worse, he got fat. But that’s not who we are comparing Randle to. We are comparing him to one of the best collegiate players of all-time. The good Derrick Coleman. Both players are elite rebounders, athletes, and low-post scorers. Both are proficient ball-handlers for their size and are well-equipped to handle any type of defense. When Coleman got to Syracuse he lacked a perimeter jump shot (something that he developed quite well over his four years), and if there is a weakness to Randle’s game it is that he can’t stretch the defense yet with his jumper. Due to both players athleticism, they can run the floor well and finish at the rim.
Why the Comparison is Bad: There aren’t many differences in their game but the two that stick out to me is motor/attitude and strength. Randle plays at a 100% level at all times when he is on the floor, and when Coleman played at Syracuse and even in his early NBA days, Coleman struggled to play at his high level at all times. Randle is also a touch shorter than Coleman, but is much more mature physically than Coleman was at this stage. Coleman relied more on his length for rebounds than his strength, which is the opposite of Randle.
Agree, disagree, got another comparison? Share it in the comments section.