Lakers’ Julius Randle Has Long Way to Go to Reach Potential

Through the first 50 games of his NBA career, Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle has established himself as one of the league's most enigmatic prospects. 

What's his ceiling? Left-handed Paul Millsap? A faster, bouncier Zach Randolph? 

What's his floor? Below-the-rim Kenneth Faried? A smaller, less athletic Blake Griffin who can't shoot, pass or see the floor as well?

With just a little over half a season's worth of evidence—inside a regressive environment—Randle remains a total mystery. 

Since returning to full strength, after breaking his leg 14 minutes into his "actual" rookie season last year, we've seen a physical marvel whose imposing strengths and glaring weaknesses contrast and complicate. 

Randle is one of the best young rebounders in NBA history. He's also one of the least efficient young forwards of the three-point era, with defensive effort and awareness that shifts from play to play.

On such a terrible team, with so much being asked of him on a possession-by-possession basis, Randle has no time to develop on his own time. It's not easy to parse which numbers help his team win and which are empty calories.

Randle's per-game statistics have been solid since he replaced Larry Nance Jr. in L.A.'s starting lineup a couple of weeks ago, but is it a sign of growth or a random blip from an uber-small sample size?

"I think he realizes the mistakes; he's starting to learn from those," Lakers head coach Byron Scott said when asked about Randle's in-season development. "He still plays hard. He still goes after rebounds on a consistent basis. He's starting to make the mid-range shot. He's starting to run the floor. So I think he's starting to grow and understand some of the things that I need him to do on a night-to-night basis. My thing is I want him to continue to do that and a little bit more each week. Not try ...

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