Knicks Legend Charles Oakley: Julius Randle a Better Version of Zion Williamson

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during a break in game action during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 18, 2021, in New York. The Knicks won in overtime 122-112. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, Pool)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

New York Knicks fans were surely dreaming about Zion Williamson one day suiting up for their team after the New Orleans Pelicans star made headlines when he talked about how much he loves playing in the Big Apple.

However, to hear Charles Oakley tell it, the Knicks already have a better version of the young superstar. 

"I think he's a better version of Zion Williamson to me," Oakley said Monday of Julius Randle during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News). "Because he can do more. … I said last year, they [the Knicks] didn't have a superstar. And now they got a superstar."

Despite Oakley's comments, there's a reason Williamson is already held in such high regard around the league.

The Duke product is just 20 years old and made his first All-Star Game in 2020-21 as someone who can soar to the hoop, overpower defenders on the block and play in a point-forward role at times while initiating the offense. He figures to be among the NBA's best players for a decade-plus if he can stay healthy.

Randle was slower to establish himself as a go-to option after the Los Angeles Lakers selected him with the No. 7 pick of the 2014 NBA draft.

While he was a double-double threat in Los Angeles and improved his scoring during one season with the Pelicans, Randle has finally elevated his game to superstar status this season under head coach Tom Thibodeau.

The Kentucky product is averaging 24.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game behind 41.6 percent shooting from three-point range. His ability to hit from deep is one area where he is undoubtedly better than Zion at this stage of their respective careers.

Randle has also helped put the Knicks into playoff position with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 34-27, while the 26-34 Pelicans are outside the postseason picture.

The two young stars may earn individual comparisons as they continue to progress, but Oakley believes New York is better off with the 26-year-old Randle leading the way.


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