Julius Randle Is Starting to Look Like LA Lakers’ Power Forward of the Future

LOS ANGELES — Ninety minutes before the opening tip of a recent loss to the comically dysfunctional Sacramento Kings, a restless Julius Randle bounces around near the Staples Center baseline, flicking set shots toward the hoop. 

An assistant coach passes the Los Angeles Lakers sophomore the ball, he takes one dribble toward the hoop, sets his feet and then leisurely shoves up a jumper. About half go in.

One minute later, Randle jogs above the right elbow to continue the routine. After a couple of misses and a few makes, he moves to the opposite elbow before concluding with another minute’s worth of jumpers from just inside the left corner. 

The exercise is brief, casual and beyond necessary. If Randle wants to be more than the next Tristan Thompson, he desperately needs a jump shot that forces defenders to close out and contest, let alone pay attention. It’s critical.

But overnight improvement is impossible. For now, other parts of Randle's game are finally starting to shine; he's shown that, at least in the short term, he can still be effective without any range.

“I just [want to] keep developing,” he told Bleacher Report. “Whatever comes, just taking it. Whether it’s a mid-range, floater all the way to the outside.”

Since the All-Star break, Randle’s true shooting percentage is 52.8, up from a debilitating 46.9 through the season’s first 54 games. His jumper is far from fixed, but Randle's improved his ability to finish around the basket. Before the All-Star break, he was at 50.9 percent within five feet of the rim. Since, he's up to 59.4 percent, per NBA.com.

In the clip below, he does a fantastic job creating room with a quick drop step toward the baseline before finishing with his right hand.

Additionally, posting an impressive box score is not one of Randle...

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