As an undersized power forward who can handle the ball and has displayed playmaking potential at times, Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle has drawn plenty of comparisons to Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green over the last year or two.
Randle still has a ways to go before he can truly be looked at as a player of the same caliber as Green (mainly as a shooter and defender), but he has previously said there are parts of Green’s game he’d like to take for his own. His new head coach (Luke Walton, who spent the last two seasons coaching Green in Golden State) has also said he can see similarities between the forwards.
They aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed the similarities between the two. Green may not have suited up in the Lakers’ loss to the Warriors over the weekend, but he spoke with Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News about Randle in a must-read Q&A, and he’s pretty high on his fellow forward:
What do you think of the talk on whether Julius can be the next Draymond Green?
Green: “I think it’s cool because he can do the stuff that I do. He can handle the ball. He can make plays for other people. He can defend. He’s super strong. He can rebound the basketball. So I think he can [be the next me]. I also think he has the potential to be better. With the God-given gifts he has, he has the potential to be better.”
To be better? But you’re also going to get better, too.
Green: “I’ll continue to grow. I’ll never stop working and I’ll continue to get better. But what is he? 21. That’s a lot of time to continue to grow. The thing about him you can’t teach is his heart. When you have that heart and type of dog, you’re going to work. I think he can be really really really good.”
Green is right that Randle has some natural gifts that Green doesn’t necessarily possess. It’s why he was selected seventh overall while Green famously fell all the way to the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
That being said, Green also has some gifts that just were overlooked. His ability to guard any position, while spacing the floor and serving as a competent playmaker in four-on-three situations offensively, allowed him to help fuel the defending 73-win Western Conference Champions to a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals last season.
Randle hasn’t consistently shown any of those abilities just yet, although he is showing flashes of improvement as a playmaker more often so far this season. Randle’s defense has also been better, and while he’ll almost assuredly never be a rim protector of Green’s caliber, his quick feet could allow him to switch onto smaller players competently as he gains better instincts. He’s also constantly shown that he’s as strong as an ox on offense, and he should have the bulk to push bigger players off of their spots defensively if he ever fully commits to it.
Randle hasn’t done any of that... yet. The other key point that Green hit on is how young Randle is, that he he has “a lot of time to continue to grow.” This is true.
To best put thing’s in perspective, Randle, entering his third year in the league, isn’t going to turn 22-years old for a few months. Green was 22 as a rookie, and he didn’t break out until his third season at age 24. Randle has plenty of time to grow under a new head coach that’s focused on teaching his young players.
Randle turning into Green still isn’t the most likely scenario. There hasn’t been a Draymond Green before Draymond Green, so it’s folly to predict that every power forward that enters the league with the ability to handle the ball is going to be him all of a sudden. Randle still has a long way to go as a shooter, playmaker, and defender if he wants to reach Green’s heights.
The compliment is what will get all of the buzz, but the best point that Green makes is that Randle has lots of time to grow as a player. He probably won’t be Green, and that’s okay! Randle should instead focus on being the best player he can be.
If he is able to harness all of his own valuable tools, then maybe in three years the next burly, mobile, ball-handling four man to get taken in the lottery will be getting favorably compared to Julius Randle.
Medina’s entire Q&A with Green (in which he talks about mentoring Randle and more) is worth a read and you can do so here. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.