While I was watching the Lakers and Warriors Friday night on ESPN, I figured I would take a closer look at a player that the Mavs social media circle had been clamoring for, Julius Randle. I watch a lot of basketball, so I am obviously familiar with his game. He rebounds, he’s strong on the interior, and he has a great motor. These are all things everyone seemingly knows of him, and I definitely thought of him as a good player.
However as the social media hype among Mavs fans began to pick up steam, I was skeptical.
Would he play the four or the five? That answer is still a mystery. This season he has spent 85% of his minutes at the five spot, a direct contradiction from his 33% last season. That gives you an idea of just what kind of tweener he really is. In the modern NBA he looks much more the part of a five, but he is not a particularly great rim protector given his 6’9 frame.
Julius struggles from beyond the three point line as well. He’s a career 27.5% three point shooter, and is at a career low 20% this season. Couple that with the fact he isn’t a dynamic one on one scorer and you have quite a confusing player. A player who isn’t big enough or a good enough rim protector to be a five, but also isn’t a good enough creator or shooter to play the four.
But even with those limitations, he is confusing for a reason. Because despite not fitting into a specific positional box, he is still incredibly effective. And that was the realization that I came to watching that Warriors/Lakers game.
Obviously I understand that 21 points and 10 rebounds in only 24 minutes is not an every night occurrence.
However if he got more of an opportunity, it might be pretty close. His per 36 suggests that he would average 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks if given the chance to play starter type minutes. Those per 36 stats can often be misleading, as some players can prosper in limited minutes, but struggle when given an expanded role.
And maybe that is the case with Randle. But it is unfair to say he can’t thrive with a heavier workload when we have never seen him be given the chance to do so. This is especially true when you consider just how productive he has been in limited floor time.
Often a good way to gauge whether a player with what appears to be quality production is actually helping the team or just padding empty stats, is to take a gander at their net rating. Julius Randle boasts a +1.0 net rating. You might scoff and say, “Just plus one?”, but consider the fact that he plays on a bad Lakers team who is eight games below .500 and it becomes that much more impressive.
So after feeling conflicted about the possibility of the Mavericks acquiring Julius Randle, I am officially on board.
Shortly after I had made my decision leap aboard the Randle hype train, some news broke.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Mavericks and Lakers have had “initial talks” regarding a Noel for Randle swap, but nothing came of it.
So good news, the seeds have apparently been planted. There are a couple things to keep on eye on moving forward though.
One being the key word “initial.” If the deal is truly to be centered around Noel on the Mavs end, that could be troubling. Woj mentioned that Noel’s thumb injury is what ultimately halted the talks. And that doesn’t even take into account his play this year, which we know has not been good. If these conversations took place earlier in the year when Noel’s stock was higher, the chances of them being revisited now that he has played as poorly as he has and is hurt seem slim.
I also don’t know exactly why the Lakers would make this move during the season. First and foremost, Nerlens Noel is an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. It should be considered the worst kept secret in the league that the Mavericks do not plan on keeping him. So why the rush to trade for him when they can have first dibs on him during the summer? Especially when you consider the fact that Randle is a more valuable asset than Noel.
Not only is he the better player, he will be a restricted free agent, which means that whoever the incumbent team is has the inside track to keeping him. He is also younger, has less of an injury history, his character is less of a concern, and so on and so forth.
It seems that all the parties involved here are ready for a change.
Noel has completely fallen out of the Mavs rotation and is currently not even with the team as he rehabs from his thumb surgery. The Lakers have all but said that Julius Randle is not a part of their long term future as they pursue “big fish” in free agency.
So I understand the urgency for the teams to want to make a move. But a trade must make sense for both parties involved, and i’m not sure it does for the Lake show. So as much we Mavs fans want to get our hands on a shiny new toy, I just don’t see it happening.
But we can still hope!
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