Diving into Julius Randle’s Ongoing Evolution

LOS ANGELES — Very little about Julius Randle corroborates the fact that he’s only 20 years old. 

From his wrinkled brow and statuesque build to the way he casually glides coast to coast after tearing defensive rebounds off the glass, the Lakers' prodigious starter plays ahead of his time and possesses terrifying potential.

Through seven preseason games, he’s shown exactly why Los Angeles' front office was smart to select him with the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft. 

Heading into the regular season, some areas of Randle’s game are light years ahead of expectations, while others still need a bit of work. He’s averaging 19.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes in the preseason, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 60.7 percent in the paint (where he’s clearly most comfortable as a scorer). These are wonderful numbers, but they don't fully encapsulate why Randle is such a favorable prospect. 

A little under a year after he fractured his right tibia, Randle overflows with unrestrained force. He’s offensively aggressive, attacking defenders who sag off him like a bull whose sole objective is to impale an overmatched matador.

Here’s a quick example, as Randle passes up a wide-open corner three to draw a shooting foul on Portland’s Meyers Leonard:

It's jarring to witness someone so large and athletic initiate his team's offense. All levels of calm evaporate from the court when Randle has the ball. He pushes it like a point guard, inverting the opponent's transition defense and putting his man in an obviously uncomfortable spot. At a recent Lakers practice, I asked Randle if anything about his ability to make on-the-fly decisions at the NBA level surprised him so far:

“No. I’ve done it my whole life,” he said. “It’s just an adjustment...

About the Author