The NCAA game is different from the NBA. The shot clock is 35 seconds long. More ball-movement is required to break down the defense. Defenses can play a variety of zone defenses; 1-2-2, 2-3, or 3-2. Getting points in the paint isn’t so easy at the NCAA level, especially when defenders just pack into the paint without consequence.
Guard play is highlighted at the NCAA level. It takes a real stand out power player to prove their offensive effectiveness against multiple double and triple-teams with a variety of passing lane coverage.
The Harrison twins of the University of Kentucky aren’t the purest of point guards. They play like converted shooting guards with the single-minded focus to attack the rim, instead of showing offensive discipline to go through the team’s top offensive options.
Kentucky’s team was very talented. Julius Randle was their primary scorer. James Young may sneak into the lottery as a draft pick, prided on his perimeter shooting and slashing ability. The Harrison twins were recruited as top-level guards to lead the squad. Willie Cauley-Stein, my personal favorite, has experience as a 5-star football recruit wide receiver, despite being a 7′ center. All of these guys are elite talents coming out of high school. All of them sacrificed certain parts of their respective games to fit within the team mold. This allowed them to achieve greater team success and make it to the NCAA Finals.
One of the offensive talents that Julius Randle sacrificed was his midrange game. He was sought after as a low-post scorer. He attacked the basket opportunistically from the high-post. Otherwise, the perimeter shooting was left to James Young and the Harrison twins.
Would it surprise you that Randle has perimeter touch?
Maybe it should.
On the NBA floor, there’s better spacing, more speed, and quickness. Guys who have a combination of quickness and strength with NBA talent tend to have great careers. Guys who combine those physical tools with NBA level skills last even longer.
Julius Randle is a powerhouse in the paint. Imagine him with a jumpshot. Does the letter “J” exist in the word franchise?
In Julius Randle’s book, maybe it does.