Julius Randle Lakers 6th Man?
Julius Randle is probably the most enigmatic player on the Lakers right now. In my own personal opinion I think Julius could be the most productive player on the Lakers this year. That was under the assumption that Julius Randle would be the starting power forward this year. There are plenty of signs and indications that Julius will begin the year coming off of the bench for the Lakers to begin the season. While initially I was surprised by this turn of events, the more I think about it, the more it seems to make a lot of sense for him to assume the role of 6th man for this year’s team.
Randle’s game seems to have improved that he could hold his own against a majority of the leagues starting power forwards. He has played two full seasons in the NBA, with a vast majority of the games he has played, coming as a starter. During those two seasons he has averaged 12.2 points and 9.4 rebs, in only 28.4 minutes per game. I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to play the same amount of minutes, coming off the bench, and be able to obtain those same numbers, if not increased numbers, if he is consistently going against the other teams bench players, as opposed to the starters. He could also find himself going against another teams starter who is dealing with fatigue. Not many people are going to be all that excited to see a fresh Randle coming into the game when you are starting to experience the effects of fatigue from playing in an NBA game.
Assuming that Randle comes off the bench that leaves Larry Nance Jr. and your Kyle Kuzma as your candidates to be the Lakers starting PF, with Larry Nance probably being the favorite. While I think Randle is an overall better player than Nance; Nance may actively prove to be the most effective player to fill the starting role. His unselfish play tends to compliment Brook Lopez and Brandon Ingram very well, as they both have a more aggressive offensive game then Nance does. Defensively he would probably be the Lakers best player on the floor, and his heady play will help stabilize the team with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram both on the floor.
To combination of Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Kyle Kuzma would give the Lakers one of the more dynamic benches in the NBA in terms of productivity. This would also allow Kuzma to easily increase and decrease his minutes depending on how he is playing at any given point in the season. Those three combined with the other Lakers coming off the bench should help this team stay in games, or possibly close gaps should the starters get off to a shaky start. Randle’s ability to handle the ball would also be better showcased with the second unit, while the first time will be sure to have the ball in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingrams hands often to make plays and set-up teammates.
So after much thought, I am all for Julius coming off the bench. I think it might lead to him increasing his desire to leave the team after the season and seek out big money and an increased role elsewhere. But the chances of the Lakers keeping Randle after this season seem to be 50/50 at best. Keep an out as the Lakers season opens up tomorrow night, and we will see how the Lakers address this question mark at the power forward positon. – JD