Past to Present: How Julius Randle Is Shaping the Los Angeles Lakers’ Future

Julius Randle has played just one game as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet, he's already managed to change the trajectory of the entire organization.

That one game—the 2014-15 season opener against the Houston Rockets in which Randle broke his leg—played a part in Gary Vitti's decision to retire after 32 years as the Lakers' head trainer, per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan. Randle's devastating injury set the tone for the rest of what became a dismal campaign, one marred by setback after setback on the way to a franchise-worst 21-61 record.

But out of that din came the All-Rookie First Team arrival of Jordan Clarkson and the lottery luck that bore D'Angelo Russell as the fruit of the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft.

No longer will Randle's impact be judged by his absence. Now, with his leg healed, Randle, the No. 7 pick in 2014, will not only have an opportunity to make a difference on the court, but will also be expected to as one of the tent poles of the Lakers' bright but murky future.

So far, Randle seems ready for the challenge. He looked rusty and overeager during Las Vegas Summer League (11.5 points on 39.5 percent shooting), as is to be expected from a young player seeing his first live game action in more than eight months. But the Kentucky product looked to be in solid physical shape, rarely (if ever) dogging it up and down the court, as he did fairly frequently last July.

When it comes to his game, Randle won't fit neatly into either of the major archetypes that have long defined Lakers lore. He's not a dominant, back-to-the-basket big in the mold of a Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaquille O'Neal. And he's certainly not a playmaking guard along the lines of a Jerry West, Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant.

This isn't to say, though, that Randle doesn't fit these two molds at all. He's big and burly enough (6'9", 250 lbs) to battle on the boa...

About the Author