Thoughts on the Newest Laker, Julius Randle

“With the 7th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, the Lakers select Julius Randle,” exclaimed Commissioner Adam Silver around 5:20PM on June 26, 2014. Lakers fans better remember that moment when they heard those words, whether it’s driving in the car and listening in the radio, following it through twitter, or glued to the TV screen. It’s a big statement to say, but Julius Randle will be an outstanding basketball player in the NBA. He is the second best player in this year’s draft in terms of who can produce in the next couple years. Guys like Wiggins, Exum, Gordon, and Embiid will take a while to develop and will eventually develop into superstars. Jabari Parker from Coach K’s Duke team will also be a superstar but will get on it right away. Guys like Julius Randle and Marcus Smart are ready to contribute right away as well. They won’t be superstars, but they will be very productive players. Randle will help this team starting next year probably averaging around 14 points and 7 rebounds which will be more than enough to produce at the power forward position. He was born a star. He is ready for the challenge.

Let’s start off with his NBA comparison. I have said this since I have watched him play for the first time, he’s the next and maybe even better version of Z-BO, Zach Randolph. I mean other than the fact that they look similar in both looks and build, they play the same way. They are both strong rebounders, in the defensive end yes but more importantly, the offensive glass. He picks up the boards and is feisty around the paint. His muscular body can push people out of the way as he can fight for the ball as it’s up in the air.

Randle attacking the basket at will.

Next, he can score in the paint at will. His body is strong enough to take advantage of anyone that’s not double his size. He is very fundamentally sound. He is Tim Dunacn-esque in the paint. He knows his upfakes, his spin moves, when to dunk, when to lay it up. This has been lacking with the Lakers since Andrew Bynum’s departure. Pau has taken a step back in the D’antoni system knocking down threes and what not. He averaged a double-double in a Kentucky System that is used to winning. He averaged 15 points and 10.4 rebounds under John Calipari.

In addition, he can attack the basket. He knows how to get and-one after and-one. He will go to the free-throw line a lot so long as he continues the same skillset he showed in Kentucky. He can start off at the top of the key as a point guard and go lebron-esque attacking the rim. He will get fouled especially with the refs giving ticky tack calls.

Finally, Randle has a lot of things that don’t show up on the stats sheet. He is a leader. He led his team as a Freshman to the NCAA championship game. He has this experience under his belt. He knows what it’s like to be under pressure and lead a young team. Not many other first round picks can say the same. He also has the heart and the passion. He loves playing basketball and showing up and getting to work. This quote will always stick with “The teams that passed up on me will regret it.” That kind of determination is what we need. “I’m a winner. That’s my biggest attribute that I can bring to the team.” He kept on mentioning the word “championship” in his press conference and interviews. That’s the attitude of a winner, of a Laker. That’s what you can expect from a Kentucky product.

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Randle talking about winning championships.

We have to look at Randle’s weaknesses though. The obvious one is the foot. If he reinjures that, it will be ugly. If he decides to get surgery this summer, it will also get ugly. Let’s just hope that this isn’t a Greg Oden situation. He has the athleticism but that can be a bad thing because he will receive a lot of contact every single day.

Other than his health, his defense and shooting are Randle’s downsides. He hasn’t made a jump shot since before March Madness. His jump shooting is a problem. But hey, I can teach a 5 year old to make a jump shot if I force him too. The jump shot is the most basic thing to teach. A lot of players make it to the NBA starting off with bad jumpers and then slowly improving them as the years go by.

Many have noted Randle’s size. At 6’9’’ he has a short wingspan and his height doesn’t match up with other Power Forwards in the West – Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, etc. His height will definitely be a liability. However, his athleticism and strength will definitely make up for it. He can charge his way into his basket ala Charles Barkley. His defense is a liability. We all know that. He won’t match up well with them defensively. However, his offensive skillset will be more important for us. If he develops a shot, he will be deadly. He can take people off the dribble to those who are taller and slower. He can post people and strengthen his way inside the paint to those who are shorter. Randle is a prospect that can produce now. I say his stats next year will hover around those of what he received in Kentucky. If that’s the case, expect a great year for the our Lakers.

By: Eldrin Masangkay

Draft Lottery Reaction

Hello guys. I am Norman Razon, a friend of Eldrin and now a new co-blogger for OurLakers.net. First off I would like to thank Eldrin for giving me the opportunity to work with him on this blog. I hope to provide some fresh and different insight about not only the Lakers but any NBA and basketball related topics. My posts will range about talking about what I believe the Lakers should do versus what they actually will do, basketball culture, other sports, and many more.

With that being said, my first topic is a simple post draft lottery reaction. I want to discuss my quick reaction with the Lakers getting the number 7th pick, the Cavaliers winning the number one pick again, and the options the Lakers have with the number 7 pick. Here is the 1st round draft order and the chances each team had heading to draft to win the number one pick: Lottery Picks

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (1.7 percent)

2. Milwaukee Bucks (25 percent)

3. Philadelphia 76ers (19.9 percent)

4. Orlando Magic (15.6 percent)

5. Utah Jazz (10.3 percent)

6. Boston Celtics (10.4 percent)

7. Los Angeles Lakers (6.3 percent)

8. Sacramento Kings (4.3 percent)

9. Charlotte Hornets- From Detroit (2.8 percent)

10. Philadelphia 76ers- From New Orleans (1.1 percent)

11. Denver Nuggets (0.8 percent)

12. Orlando Magic- From New York via Denver (0.7 percent)

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (0.6 percent)

14. Phoenix Suns (0.5 percent)

Rest of the 1st Round

15. Atlanta Hawks

16. Chicago Bulls- From Charlotte

17. Boston Celtics- From Brooklyn

18. Phoenix Suns- From Washington

19. Chicago Bulls

20. Toronto Raptors

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- From Dallas via Houston via LAL

22. Memphis Grizzlies

23. Utah Jazz- From Golden State

24. Charlotte Hornets- From Portland

25. Houston Rockets

26. Miami Heat

27. Phoenix Suns- From Indiana

28. Los Angeles Clippers

29. Oklahoma City Thunder

30. San Antonio Spurs

I was working at the time of NBA Draft Lottery and arranged for a friend to text me what pick they got. Hoping the Lakers could move up a few picks from 6 to maybe the 4th overall pick, I was initially upset when I got the text saying the pick we got was number 7. I was not frustrated or cursing Adam Silver’s name. Sad but got over it fast because it is a lottery where nothing is guaranteed and the likely pick we would get was around number 6. So found out the pick, shed a few tears, and went back to work.

 

With the NBA in general, nothing is guaranteed. From big leads being blown to questionable officiating, the NBA is as unpredictable as the stock market. With that being said, the NBA Draft Lottery was far from having any guarantees with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the number one pick AGAIN. With a 1.9 percent chance in this draft alone of winning the number one pick and winning it for the 3rd time in four years since Lebron left, many people like I immediately thought the lottery was rigged.

Just a thought, what does the NBA have to gain with nudging the Cavaliers to being a powerhouse team? Cleveland is a low market city and is widely considered a city that does not excel in sports with the Cavaliers, Browns, and Indians. The NBA already has a reputation for being one of the more widely rigged Sports Associations. Not saying that the NBA Draft Lottery 2014 was NOT rigged. But if you look at it from a different standpoint, the NBA as a whole has more to lose than to gain with rigging the NBA Draft lottery. Such a move would further hurt the reputation of the NBA. The NBA rigged the lottery for Cleveland to be a powerhouse team at the cost of further hurting the reputation of the league. Does not, seem like a smart business decision does it. With the nature as unpredictable as a lottery, maybe the Cavaliers really just got lucky.

Changing the topic to a lighter standpoint and Laker related: What should the Lakers do with the number seven pick? There are two options I have heard and another option that should be looked at too.

-Trade the pick away [for Kevin Love]

-Draft a player using the pick

-Trade down the pick

I have made this clear to all my friends who ask. I am STRONGLY against trading the pick for Kevin Love. Let’s get this straight, the Lakers are and should be in a rebuilding mode right now. As much as the fans, management, and Kobe disagree with this statement, it is true. They now lack a core necessary to building a team around and the longer that management does not accept it, the longer it will take for the team to start rebuilding and move the franchise towards the right direction. The Lakers should really look into what’s widely regarded a deep NBA draft and take their chances on these players as the next cognate pieces in the next era of Laker basketball. Alongside that, drafted and younger players tend to be more hungry, willing, and able to improve to create an identity synonymous to a team’s identity compared to veteran players who leave other teams doing it for their own immediate, selfish desires like winning now and/ or the money. Sorry Kevin Love, but you are welcome to join us next year. *Because this is a more general post-draft reaction post, please stay tuned for my post on an upcoming Sunday “How and Why Teams should Draft.”

 If the Lakers should not trade the pick away, who should they take with the number seventh pick? I personally have not done too much scouting in this year’s draft class. But with this pick, I hope that they draft an upper classman. The top 3-5 picks are raw, talented, and athletic. But with pure talent, they lack the collegiate experience of growth and maturity to have poise and the drive to continue to improve which is necessary in the NBA. With that being said, why not go for an upper classman. Since the Lakers are missing out on the raw beasts on the draft, why not go the other route and get a more experience player who is more NBA ready as a player and a person? Either ways with this draft, you cannot go wrong with any pick ON TALENT ALONE. It is up to management to find out who has the right attitude and personality synonymous to the franchise identity and direction they want to go.

The third option is more synonymous with my desire to draft upperclassmen with the top 10 picks projected to be underclassmen. Not the most popular choice, but the Lakers are a mess right now. No identity, no coach, and only three players signed for next year. Players who are not in the long term plans of the organizations. The more picks you have, the more you have to score a key player. And the more young guys you bring, the more that you can create a team together. Just so happens there are some talented upperclassmen expected to be taken in the later draft. I would not mind getting Shabazz Napier and another player via trade down.

 

Being also a fan of the NFL, I take drafting very seriously. There is so much I want to say and I hope you can continue checking us out. My general posting schedule will be Thursday and Sunday. Thursday will be a more general Lakers or NBA related post. Sundays are the posts that will be more serious topics. To have a taste what I mean by more serious, my next three Sunday posts are the following: NBA Culture, Why the NCAA should NOT allow Collegiate Athletes to Declare For the Draft early, and Finding an Identity and How It Is the Most Important Part of Management… These posts are typically more open to non Laker fans, require more time, and truly state more on my general opinions and knowledge of the sports world. With that being said, I will not be able to consistently post well until the 12th of June so the dates for these posts are yet to be decided.

By: Norman David Razon

The Lakers Should Keep Pau Gasol

For cheap. Anything more than cheap is not acceptable. On February 1, 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers traded a package that included Kwame Brown, his own brother Marc Gasol, and Javaris Crittenton to the Mephis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. This trade changed the Lakers franchise as the team immediately jumped from a first-round exit to a Finals appearance. The following two years, the Lakers received two rings to add to the 14 in the Pre-Gasol era. Let’s be honest. Pau made the difference. A dynamic trio of Gasol, Andrew Bynum (when he wasn’t trash), and Lamar Odom (again when he wasn’t trash), that team would be unstoppable led by arguably the best scorer in all of NBA history, Kobe Bryant.

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Pau has to make a decision. The Lakers have to make a decision. Pau Gasol’s value has declined in the past year. More importantly, his talent has declined. His impact on the court has declined. But the best case scenario for both parties is to keep him. There are three reasons why: The excuses, his future impact, and respect of Lakers’ stars.

Let’s start off with the excuses. The past two years, Gasol has been under the D’antoni system. The D’antoni system is known for stretch-fours and the lack of a need for a post player. During the first year of the D’antoni system, Gasol was overshadowed by Dwight Howard. Because Dwight would hog the paint, this leaves Gasol as the 4 instead of the 5. Pau Gasol, as seen in the years of Phil Jackson, performed much better as a 5. He was better in the post, backing players down, dishing to a diving Lamar Odom, an open Derek Fisher, or the bail-out offense in Kobe Bryant. Gasol’s post moves encompasses a variety of upfakes, ambidextrious shots, a running jumper that is unstoppable, and a face-up jumpshot game from 18 feet and forward that is deadly.

With Dwight clogging the paint, Pau was sent outside… literally. Since D’antoni is a fan of making it rain from beyond the arc, Pau was sometimes sent in three-point territory. He’s good at it. He made eight three pointers in 2012-2013 season. That’s impressive for a big man not named Dirk Nowitzki, Spencer Hawes, or Kevin Love. Gasol can hit the three, but why not stick him in the post where he belongs? He’s suffered under the D’antoni system. That can be the first excuse of why Gasol is failing.

In the past two seasons, his injuries caught up with him. He missed 22 games this season and 33 games last season. Knee tendonitis that he suffered from the previous season hindered him a bit. Vertigo also sidelined Gasol for awhile. These are the excuses that you can give Pau for his decline. I’m not saying he is as good as he was in his Memphis days or as excellent as he was in the 2008-2011 days. I mean look at his stats this season alone 17.4 points per game and 9.7 rebounds. There might be a possibility that if these excuses are wiped out, we will be looking at the same Pau that Lakers fans praised him for five years ago.

My second point emphasizes the future impact that Pau can still bring to the Lakers. First of all Pau Gasol has been in the league for 12 years. This is the veteran leadership that the Lakers need especially if we are going to draft a big man in Noah Vonleh, Julis Randle, or Aaron ImageGordon. Pau’s veteran leadership will be vital for a young team in a locker room. His mentorship will be a strong benefit for the entire team. But more than his leadership, his production is still necessary. Pau can still give us a good 14-16 points per game and 7-10 rebounds per game as well. He can be a good third option after Kobe and hopefully another big free agent pickup. Pau will be a benefit if we get him for cheap: a third option, a mentor, and a lovable character.

My last point is the respect that the Lakers give to their stars. The Lakers take care of their stars as they showed when Kobe was given a $48 million extension. We take care of stars unless they ultimately ask to be traded. Jerry West, Kareem, Magic, etc. have graduated (Kobe will soon enough) as Lakers. The Lakers take care of their stars. Pau might not be in the same class as these heavyweights. But. He is a star, a future hall-of-famer. His jersey will one day be hung in the rafters of Staples Center. Th Lakers are known for taking care of their stars and must continue that tradition. Why? We need stars to continue to come to Los Angeles for the immediate future and the long-term future. (AKA Kevin Love?) . The best way to do this is to prove that we are willing to keep them and pay them even if their production value is falling down. Maybe not the big contract that Kobe is getting the next two years, but substantial enough to be satisfying for both parties.

There have been reports that Pau is looking at either the Bulls, Spurs, Grizzlies, and the Lakers. Let’s start of with the Bulls. Pau does not have the defensive abilities that Thibbedeou demands. At the same time, the Bulls’ situation with the Rose injury in addition to the possible trade rumors surrounding some of their players may not be the best scenario for Pau to thrive in. The Spurs – Probably a really good fit working with other international stars such as Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter. However, his fame will be overshadowed by the Big 3 and his minutes will trail behind Duncan especially at the rare times when Popovic decides to go small. The Grizzlies on the other hand is an attractive place for Gasol for two reasons: his former team and his own borhter playing alongside him. However, with a new coach in Dave Jeoger, has not proven that he can succeed. With the lack of a go-to scorer down the stretch, the Grizzlies cannot compete. Why add big men if you need a scorer? I don’t see Pau going to the Grizzlies unless they trade his brother or Z-bo. The Lakers have the most potential in getting that big name in Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony. At that point, the Lakers could be a good contending team if they can get a semi-competent coach. Pau has made a home here in the City of Angels and who would want to leave the best franchise of Basketball? He has stated numerous times of his desire to stay in Los Angeles. He should stay. He must stay.

Again this is all irrelevant if we overpay for him. Let’s sign him for around 7-8 million and let’s help him help the team.

Stay tuned on my take on my 5 options the Lakers should do with the 7th pick in the draft.

Why a Mike D’antoni-Mark Jackson Swap Makes Sense

There’s no other way to start a blog than to make an unfavorable statement right off the bat: It would make sense for both the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers to swap their respective coaches from last season. That’s right: Mark Jackson should coach the Lakers and Mike D’antoni should coach the Warriors.

The situations for both coaches were similar and different in many ways. Actually, it is only similar in one way and different in a thousand ways. The similarity: both coaches found themselves unemployed in the same week. The differences: D’antoni won 27 games, did not make the playoffs, had an injury-riddled team all year-long, was faced with continuous bashing from the fans asking him to be fired, struggled to have his star players respect him, was booed every single game by fans across Staples Center, and was the subject of ridicule day in and day out in the bright spotlight of the sixteen time world champions. Mark Jackson on the other hand, won 51 games, did make the playoffs, took the star-studded Clippers to game 7 in a series without their defensive anchor in Andrew Bogut, and some flaky missed calls in game 3 that could have given the Warriors the victory that could have brought them to round 2, was respected by his players, gained the trust of his stars, brought the Warriors to two consecutive playoffs where they played fairly well despite injuries in only his 2nd and 3rd seasons as coach in the NBA, and the fans respected him as a coach. This long list of differences captivates in a nutshell the success of the Warriors and the lack-there-of with the Lakers this season.

The problem with the Lakers as mentioned above is that their locker room lacks motivation, respect, and leadership. The Lakers were led this year by a team of young and talented men in Nick Young, Jordan Farmar, and Wesley Johnson. Sure, D’antoni develops young talent very well. However, the respect that a coach can garner is vital for a winning team. Pau Gasol frequently expressed his frustration against D’antoni. Kobe Bryant did the same at times. Steve Nash, the former two-time MVP under D’antoni back in the successful Phoenix Suns era did not play enough games to continue the system that D’antoni wished to instill. The Lakers have the talent. Yes, we do. If Pau Gasol does come back, along with a healthy Kobe Bryant, a somewhat healthy Steve Nash, a young lottery pick, and a talented free agent, that will be a strong starting 5. Add to that a young up-and-down three-point shooting bench led by SwaggyP, Farmar, and Meeks, this Lakers team can be talented enough to make the playoffs and hopefully make some noise. All they are missing now is a leader that can garner the respect of both the veterans and the young players. They need someone who can motivate the young ones to play as a team and be open ears waiting for advice from the veterans. There is no better available coach who can rile up a team, who can motivate its players, and get the respect of his stars than Mark Jackson. Jackson is a leader. If it wasn’t for his bad relationship with Joe Lacob and the entire Warriors front office and staff, Jackson would have been hailed as a great coach compared to other 3rd year coaches.

Let’s look at the flip side of things. The Warriors’ problem in the last couple years has been their “ok” success in the strongly competitive Western Conference. They need someone who can take them over that hump and take full advantage of the resources that the Warriors have. What are their resources? One of the best point guards of the 21st century in Stephen Curry, the lights out shooting of players like Klay Thompson, and the ability of David Lee to use the pick and roll effectively. Sounds familiar? The old Mike D’antoni Suns played the same way: a lights out three-point shooting team, a great shooting and passing point guard in Steve Nash, and a great pick-and-roll big man in Amare Stoudemire. Andre Iguodala can play the Shawn Marion role. D’antoni can and will bring the best out of what the Warriors can give. You will get the people who will say that D’antoni doesn’t coach defense and all that other nonsense. Yes D’antoni doesn’t coach defense, but when your best two players (Curry and Lee) don’t play a lick of defense anyway, then it doesn’t even matter in the first place. The way to win with this team is to outscore their opponents, something that D’antoni teams has proven it can do when their shots are falling. The Warriors’ shots are always falling.

Jackson is not an X’s and O’s coach. But, maybe that is what this team needs. He isolated Klay Thompson in the post a lot this year. He could definitely do that with Kobe and the Lakers. We tried the Princeton offense and failed. We tried the 7 or seconds or less offense and failed. Maybe it’s time we go to the more freestyle way of playing basketball with a motivating coach like Mark Jackson who will always push for success and unity of the team. Preaching defense can also be a strong asset to a team who never played a lick of defense under the D’antoni system. Jackson will preach defense and let his players play to the best of their ability. Add to the fact that Jackson would love to be here because his church where he preaches is just located in Van Nuys.

I am not saying that both teams should pursue Jackson or D’antoni as their first option. Nor am I saying that both coaches would be the best option for either team. All I am saying is that both teams should consider it because they could potentially be great fits for their respective teams. The chances that this will actually take place is almost as good as the chances of the cable news stations stopping all Donald Sterling talk. But, the Warriors lost the chance on Stan Van Gundy and probably Steve Kerr. The Lakers have not expressed immediate interest on Mark Jackson. Maybe they both should start thinking about this idea now.

By: Eldrin Masangkay

Welcome to OurLakers

OurLakers is a blog for dedicated fans of the Los Angeles Lakers. The mission of OurLakers is to reflect upon the happenings and the rumors around the organization. This is an opinionated blog meant for the writers and fans to express ideas, opinions, reasonings, and future possibilities of the team. This is a fan website and has no affiliation with the organization. Articles will be posted at least twice a week. Fans may also participate in the blog. If you are interested in blogging for this website, please go to the About OurLakers section.