Freshmen Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph are the two favorites to be the first forwards off the board after Michael Beasley in the 2008 NBA Draft. NBA-Draft.com takes a deeper look at this draft position battle…
Former LSU Forward Anthony Randolph and ex-UCLA Forward Kevin Love are almost exact opposites at first sight. Randolph measured in at 6'10 ¼", 200 pounds. From fingertip-to-fingertip, his wingspan measured in 7th out of the 78 prospects at the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp at an amazing 7'3". Kevin Love, on the other hand, is 6'9 ½" and a slimmed-down 255 pounds. He has a 6'11" wingspan. But after further analysis, the two both had 35" vertical leap. Surprised? Love also raised many eyebrows by beating out the "more athletic" Randolph in the lane agility drill with a time of 11.76 seconds, compared to Randolph's 11.86 second-time. Randolph returned the feeling of defeat by beating Love in the 3/4 court sprint 3.26 seconds to 3.35…
Besides the first looks, the style of play between Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph are also drastically different. Randolph is a long, athletic lefty with an infinite collection of skills. He is a developing inside-outside threat; he has the ability to effectively post up around the block or take his defender out onto the perimeter. He uses his long body and his high jump shot release to shoot over opponents effectively from about 15-18 feet out. Beyond that, Randolph is still developing. He is an excellent ball-handler for his size, and his quickness allows his to lead the fast break. He can blow by the 4's who cover him into the lane for a dunk, or post-up the smaller 3's for a quick hook shot/fade-away jumper. On the defensive side, Randolph is a terrific rebounder and shot blocker due to his pure athleticism. His long arms lead to plenty of deflections and steals. He is still raw, but is a whole lot of pure athleticism.
Against Kentucky, Randolph went off for 24 points, 14 rebounds (6 offensive), 4 steals and a block. In fact, he had 8 games with 4+ blocks and 5 games with 3+ steals. Against USC (Southern California), Love took over racking up 18 points, 12 rebounds (8 offensive), and 5 steals. On the season, Love had 5 games with 4+ blocks and 2 games with 3+ steals. But he put up more solid, more consistent numbers than Randolph, while also leading his team to the Final Four.
The less explosive Kevin Love, dominated the college scene this past season. He earned consensus All-American honors and was a finalist for both major Player of the Year awards- the Naismith and Wooden awards. Love was the second freshman in Pac-10 history to win the league Player of the Year award, while he also garnered honorable mention All-Defensive Team in the Pac-10. He reached double digit scoring in every game, while shooting 55.9% from the field, 35.4% from 3-point range and 76.7% from the charity stripe. He dominated the glass this past season averaging 10.6 rebounds per contest, including 23 double digit games. He is an extremely skilled post player who can step out and hit almost any perimeter shot.
Even more impressive than his stats is Love's extremely high basketball IQ. He seems to always know where to be on the court, and what to do. He reads plays like a point guard- pushing the pace with his strong, full-court accurate outlet passes or slowing the game down with his impressive pick-and-roll abilities. His knowledge and understanding of the game help to make up for his perceived "lack of athleticism".
Love was the better college player between the two by far. The better NBA player? It depends. Randolph, if he lives up to potential, could be a dominant defensive force in the NBA, with a complimentary offensive game. But it is Love who will most likely get his name called out before Randolph on Draft night due to his NBA ready body, and solid and fundamentally sound game.