Former Kentucky Wildcats Julius Randle and James Young realized their dreams as their names were called during the 2014 NBA Draft. They were broken into the traditions that came with the UK program and now they continue their careers as apart two of the most storied franchises in NBA history, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers and Celtics had plenty of holes to fill as they were both putrid last season. They needed players that addressed several areas and that’s exactly what these two UK standouts are capable of doing.
Randle was thought to be a top three pick type of talent before last year’s college basketball season started. People started to pick him apart as they do with most stars. Many people think he’s limited in a few areas.
“He needs work on his right hand. He needs to develop counter moves when players take his spin move away. He can’t shoot it.”
Those are valid arguments for people who want to dwell in the negatives, but they don’t tell us the full story.
Randle wasn’t asked to shoot very often while at Kentucky because they didn’t need him to. He largely played the power forward and center positions. With his girth and quickness he was a nightmare for other big men. Whether he played with his back to the basket or facing up his intent was to get to the basket. His spin move was dominant and he didn’t have to develop counters. It doesn’t mean he can’t do it he just didn’t have to.
Randle possess the drive and will to go get the basketball wherever it may be. He rebounds out of his area and doesn’t give up when attacking the rim. He will be a presence even when playing with other grown men. I don’t see any reason he wouldn’t be able to average a double-double in the NBA. He was no stranger to that in college as he averaged 15 points 10 rebounds and racked up 24 double-doubles along the way.
James Young isn’t just a shooter. He’s a dynamic scorer. He has an incredibly smooth stroke. He shot a mediocre 35% from three point range because more often than not he was the only guy on the floor willing to take the shot to stretch the defense. He shot a blistering 47% from inside the arc which is exceptional for a guard. He can hit shots from any spot on the floor which makes him incredibly difficult to guard. He also possess good size at 6’7″ that makes him an above average rebounding guard and also allows him to play and guard multiple positions.
He was the right pick for the Celtics because they finished 26th in the NBA in scoring and 27th in offensive efficiency. They struggled to put the ball in the hoop and Young could provide some instant offense off the bench. He does need to work on his defensive consistency, but he’ll have no choice but to improve playing alongside guards like Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo, and Avery Bradley.
These two guys are poised for excellent NBA careers because they want to be the best. That’s why they went to Kentucky and the reason they won’t be afraid of the championship banners that loom overhead in the Garden and Staples Center. The sky is the limit for these guys and the franchises hope they can play vital roles in getting back on the top.