This post is part of a series geared toward generating hype for the upcoming MLL season. Non-lacrosse and non-MLL fans can get to know the league’s stars better through these comparisons to NBA, NFL and NHL players. Some analogies are based on playing styles and others are based on off-field personality, but none are based on spending habits. We aren’t quite at the point where MLL players can drop $5,000 each week at Cheesecake Factory, but we’ll get there someday.
I need to start with a disclaimer: This comparison is based on skillset – not career achievements. John Grant Jr. is also one of the top-five greatest lacrosse players of all-time. On the other hand Randolph has been an All-Star just twice in his 13-year career. Junior has been nicknamed “Daddy” by his indoor teammates; Randolph was known as a hothead during his first few years in the league. So, how is Junior anything like Z-Bo?
Junior’s career has certainly been more decorated. He’s a two-time MLL MVP, two-time NLL MVP, four-time Steinfeld Cup champion and – oh, yeah – a member of the 2010 All-World Team. His accolades resemble a HOFer like Magic Johnson more than Randolph.
Although Z-Bo never dominated his league like Junior did, their left-handed offensive games are very similar. Both are big. Actually, check that – both are huge. Randolph is 6’9’’ and 260 lbs.; Junior is 6’2’’ and 225 lbs. They use their wide frames to their advantage when backing down smaller defenders. Z-Bo and Junior repeatedly punished overmatched defenders in the low-post or around the crease. The strangest thing about them, though, is their finesse.
For such big, physical players, both Z-Bo and Junior have a delightful arsenal of finesse moves. They are able to create their left-handed shots for themselves with their power, yet they finish the moves gracefully. Gritty baskets and goals look smooth for them. Their skillset makes your jaw drop. Both are the “single-handedly worth the price of admission” type.
This whole highlight tape is worth watching, but check out the 0:58 mark. Watch these three plays against the Cannons. The first two plays involve Junior backing down Mitch Belisle and finishing behind-the-back. On the third he knocks over JJ Morrissey and ends with a sensational finish.
Men over 225 lbs. should not be allowed to move like this. It just isn’t fair for the rest of us. Junior’s footwork around the crease is remarkable. Check out Z-Bo’s equally nifty footwork to get to the hoop in the first play of this highlight tape.
That’s eerily similar to Junior. Since these two are such complete offensive players, they are able to make moves others can’t. They both have great face-up games, but they can also back down defenders. The footwork on their back-down-spin moves makes them almost unguardable. Enjoy their playing styles while you still can. Once they retire, both leagues will be without finesse big-men.
More from this series:
Mike Sawyer versus Stephen Curry
If you have any comparisons that you’d like to see featured, e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “MLL versus.”