The Los Angeles Lakers have a very tricky situation when it comes to dealing with Julius Randle. On one hand, Julius Randle is a very talented power forward who is entering the fourth year of his NBA career at the age of 22. On the other hand, extending Julius Randle to the max that you can get coming off of a rookie contract would leave the Lakers with very little cap space due to Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng still being on the team. Year four will go a long way in determining whether Randle will continue to be on this young and upcoming team in the future.
Julius Randle’s offensive skillset is pretty remarkable considering his size and height. He’s an undersized power forward who wasn’t gifted with the longest wingspan, but he has a powerful frame and is very athletic. Randle’s ability to get to the ball on the defensive glass, push it up court and either get to the rim or dish it out to an open teammate has many Lakers fans comparing him to Lamar Odom. Those abilities have led to doing something that hasn’t been done by a Lakers player this young since Magic Johnson.
Even though Julius Randle will be entering his fourth season, he will only be looking to play in his third full season since his rookie year was cut short to breaking his leg in the opening game. That means he lost a year to develop his game, so fans should be optimistic about the number he put up last year. Julius Randle averaged 13 points last year, an improvement of 2 points from the year before while averaging the same number of minutes. He was also able to increase his field goal percentage during his third year to 48.8%, a notable jump from the year before. His rebounding numbers took a hit last year, but that was due to the tenacity at which Brandon Ingram was able to crash the boards as well.
Plays like the one above is just how special Julius Randle can be. He has the luxury of being left handed and can finish on that side of the basket. Not many NBA defenders are used to having to play on someone’s left hand, so there is an immediate advantage that he has. He also has great control when finishing while getting bumped, a skill needed when he is normally smaller than the guy he is trying to score over.
The areas in which Julius Randle needs to improve are quite easy to point out. If Julius Randle wants to continue to be the starting power forward on this Los Angeles Lakers team, it starts with effort on the defensive side and the ability to stretch the floor from three on offense. With Randle’s physical strength and quickness, he should be a better defensive player than what he has shown so far. The Lakers have a better defensive team rating when he is off the floor, so that needs to be corrected in year four.
Randle’s three-point percentage will need to improve as well with how today’s NBA is being played. He shot 27% from behind the arc last year, and should aim to get it to at least 33% next year. If that does happen, defenders would have to respect his shot and close out on him which would give him the advantage of being able to pump fake and drive to the rim for either a lay-up or passing it to an open teammate.
With all that being said, Julius Randle definitely has the talent to be a starting player on a team on the rise. However, expect the Brooklyn Nets and other teams to sign Julius Randle to an offer sheet that could be potentially dangerous to the Lakers to match. If the Lakers are able to move Mozgov and Deng, then matching Julius would be a no brainer since the Lakers would have cap space. If they do not see that much of an improvement in Randle’s game by the all-star break, look for the Lakers to try and trade Randle to get some assets for their future.