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Julius Randle: “Not that tough to guard” or “bull in the China shop”?

Chauncey Billups and Deni Avdija seem to disagree on how to describe Jules.

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Julius Randle is a unique player. He is the ultimate fanbase splitter. It’s not crazy to say that you can nearly evenly split the Knicks fans out there into two groups, one embracing and rooting for him, and the other one loathing and wanting him out of town.

If you belong to the former group, our thoughts align and so do those of Portland Trail Blazers head coach and World Champion Chauncey Billups.

If you belong to the latter group, your thoughts might have something more to do with those of Wizards wing and Euro-hooper Deni Avdija.

It’s funny how in back-to-back games in three days—the first one last Sunday, the second one on Tuesday—Julius Randle was described in two very different ways by two of his opponents (that said, one schemed against JR from the sideline and the other had to go bump his chest against him on the actual hardwood.)

“For me, he’s not that tough to guard,” Avdija said in his postgame presser. The Knicks, in case you missed it, destroyed Washington in a wire-to-wire victory, 121-105. Randle, for one, bagged himself 39 points for the second time this season. That didn’t seem to shock Deni in any way, however.

“Probably... he’s aggressive,” Avdija said. “He picks his spots, and he’s trying to score honestly like he’s a big guy going into lane, getting fouls... That’s about it,” the Wizard explained.

Overall, Randle reached his 39 points shooting 13-of-23 from the floor and adding 10 one-point baskets from the free-throw line. When matched up with Avdija in particular, Randle went 3-of-5 finishing six possessions (the five shots along with a turnover) out of 13 meetups.

Then, right before the Portland Trail Blazers faced the New York Knicks at MSG on Wednesday, coach Billups addressed the media and said his team “will have our hands full with [Randle].”

Billups sounded more like a fan of JR than he did a naysayer of the two-time All-Star forward. Defining the Knickerbocker, Billups said “Julius is a bull in the China shop. He’s just so physical. He brings that level every night.”

Randle went on to have a relatively tame performance on Wednesday, scoring 20 points on 17 field-goal attempts. However, Julius contributed eight dimes and seven rebounds and was close to notching a trip-dub on the lowly Blazers. He did all of that in 32 minutes and didn’t play a single second in the fourth quarter, so it’s fair to assume he’d have reached those heights (he needed just two assists and three rebounds, I mean...) had the game not been decided before the halftime break.

The Knicks trounced Portland, 112-84, with Randle getting a team-high +31 plus/minus.

“He’s a tough matchup ’cause he’s quick and he’s fast and he’s pretty explosive. When his three-ball is going, he’s really difficult to stop,” Billus explained. “They too believe in him. He’s going to be aggressive the entire time. You put him in his little areas where he’s [isolating]. He gets to the spots he likes to get to and he also can pass out of it and keep you honest.”

Whether you’re more of the “not that tough to guard” opinion or the “bull in the China shop” one, make sure to vote Jules into the All-Star game before it’s too late!