“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.
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.
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