The NBA Draft is now officially behind the Dallas Mavericks, and we’re all still swooning over the addition of Luka Doncic. As great of a moment as that was, Dallas is not finished making big moves this summer. NBA Free Agency is less than a week away.
The selection of Doncic makes the Mavs’ top priority in free agency now perfectly clear — try to sign a star (or potential star) big man to fill the void at the center position that’s been there since Tyson Chandler left Dallas (both times). Although Julius Randle might not be a seamless fit for the Mavs, he’s still young and just now starting to blossom, as he showed this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Randle is a 6’9”, 250 pound bulldog who can play either power forward or center. The 23-year-old was selected by the Lakers with the seventh overall pick in 2014, and just finished up a career best season, averaging 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Even more impressive — Randle nearly averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game when he was a starter (49 games, 30 minutes per game).
Randle is a restricted free agent; therefore, the Lakers are able to match any offer he receives if they wish to retain him. However, the Lakers’ top priority this summer seems to be chasing the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and any other big name superstar. If the Mavs really want Randle, it might be a good time to pounce while L.A. is star-gazing.
Although the majority of Randle’s points come in the paint, he shot a career-high 56-percent from the field, attempting 11 field goal attempts per game (also a career-high). If you’re going to be an undersized big that can’t really shoot, you have to be able to finish at the rim, and Randle does that well.
Rebounding is another strength of Randle’s game, given his size. He averages 9 rebounds per game for his career, which is two more than his fellow undersized power forward/center, Draymond Green. Randle gives maximum effort on the offensive boards as well, averaging a little over 2 of those per game, which means you’re pretty much guaranteed at least 2 extra possessions on any given night.
Randle is a terrible three-point shooter (22 percent last season), but he also doesn’t attempt that many either (0.5 per game). In today’s NBA, bigs — especially ones who are smaller than traditional bigs — must have some kind of touch from deep in order to keep from clogging up the floor. Who knows if that’s something Randle could add later on? After all, Rick Carlisle is known for helping his players develop a three-point shot (see: Al-Farouq Aminu, Dwight Powell).
Shot blocking is another big weakness of Randle, which is — yep, you guessed it — also related to his size. Randle only averages 0.5 blocks per game. By comparison, Dwight Powell averaged 0.4 blocks per game in six less minutes per game than Randle.
Fit with the Mavericks
Given what the Mavs now have in their backcourt (Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic), and given that Doncic will essentially be able to play any position from point guard to power forward, I think Dallas would be better off going after a center who is a big-time rebounder and shot-blocker. Clint Capela would be ideal for the Mavs, but that’s not a likely option. As much as some Mavs’ fans might hate to hear it, DeAndre Jordan would be an almost perfect fit in Dallas, despite being 30 years old.
I’d still be fine with the Mavs signing Randle if the price is right, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend throwing a max at him, given his physical limitations at his position. We’ll see how Randle’s market plays out in about a week.