NY Knicks: Julius Randle is the top true power forward in the NBA

Julius Randle, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Julius Randle, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

NY Knicks All-Star Julius Randle has evolved into a dominant scorer in the NBA.

Positions on the court are starting to become a thing of the past, but Julius Randle might just hold this crown at the moment.

If it wasn’t settled before last night, that game against the Los Angles Lakers may have just confirmed it. Julius Randle has the merits of the best true power forward in the NBA at the moment.

Discussing positions on a basketball court is becoming ever more increasingly difficult. Guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant fit the mold as power forwards. In the same breath, they also have the styles of play that resonate with most small forwards and even point guards at times.

When you look at Julius Randle, you really see power forward and not much else. While he can bring the ball up, Randle’s go-to position is in the mid-range, post, or stretching out for the three. He’s not the type of ball-handling big man that the Greek Freak and KD are, but more so a brute down low that’s adjusted his game to fit the current NBA mold.

If you use that definition of what a true power forward is, there are only a few other guys even close to Randle’s ability: Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson.

I’ll start with Davis first because the recent game against the Lakers certainly calls for this discussion.

On Tuesday against the Lakers, Randle scored 31 points with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Davis struggled on 8-of-23 shooting for just 20 points with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

There’s no doubt that Davis has been hampered by his mid-season injury. Since coming back to the floor 11 games ago, Davis’ game has been a barrage of inconsistency, two games where he played like his old self, and more variability.

His 36 points against Portland and 42 in a win over Phoenix reminded everyone what Anthony Davis is capable of. But two games of four points each and an overall average of just 20.5 points per game in those 11 games – mind you during LeBron James’ absence – is frightening, to say the least.

At full strength, it’d be foolish to say that Anthony Davis isn’t the top 4-man in the NBA. But in 11 games back from injury, he hasn’t been able to fully reclaim what he was before he got hurt.

Zion Williamson has a bright future outlook but now isn’t quite his time.

In two years, Zion Williamson might be on his way to challenging the entire NBA for the top true power forward in the game. But right now, he isn’t there yet.

Williamson is proving to be one of the most lethal scorers in the league and is doing so without being a serious threat from behind the arc. His 27 points per game could easily be 30 if his minutes weren’t limited to just over 33 a game. Randle averages 24 points with four more minutes of playing time a game, so Zion has to get the check there.

But Julius Randle holds the upper edge in rebounds and assists by a substantial margin, with blocks and steals being split between the two at a fairly even margin. Overall, Randle’s stats are better, and holding a bit more experience under his belt also holds weight. He’s been the leader of a terrific team this season. 

Other guys on the prowl don’t have the same star power / winning mentality.

Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, and Tobias Harris are three more names that are in the overall discussion but are more ‘Tier B’ than Randle, Davis, and Williamson. Also, with the Pacers and being a bit toward the bottom of the playoff picture and the Raptors completely out of contention, the lack of balance between stats and winning is lacking.

For Harris, playing with two other stars and also being a small forward / power forward hybrid is a bit of a downfall.

Is it a bit premature to crown Julius Randle as the best overall power forward in the game? We’ll probably need more of a sample size of Anthony Davis’ return from injury to say that for sure. However, in the current NBA, Randle’s proven his worth as other guys in the same tier have fallen down in recent weeks.

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