What Kind of Identity Will Julius Randle Give Lakers in the Long Term?

Julius Randle wasn’t the tallest or fastest draft prospect in the lottery and isn’t known for his outside shooting.

But the Los Angeles Lakers snatched him up in a heartbeat when he dropped to the No. 7 spot on June 26.

What Randle does have is a bull-in-a-china-shop mentality—gobbling up rebounds, muscling his way to the basket and offering the kind of fundamental tangibles that could help create a new identity for the Lakers in future years.

That approach to basketball wasn’t a priority under former coach Mike D’Antoni, who favored a spread offense and ball movement to create open shots from the perimeter.

The uptempo experiment wasn’t solely to blame for the team’s woes—rampant injuries were the major reason for the worst loss record in Lakers franchise history. It didn’t help, however, that D’Antoni’s belief system ran contrary to his biggest stars over the course of two seasons—Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

That’s now all in the past, even if the past seems so painfully recent.

The Lakers will shift back to more traditional strengths as Bryant returns to action after nearly a season off with injuries. It’s no secret that the Mamba likes operating out of half-court sets, using strength, footwork and his legendary pump-fakery to score and often get to the line for the and-1.

As Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said about Bryant in May, per Arash Markazi for ESPN LA, “He's gotten a little bit older. I think he's become more effective. I think you'll see a lot more of him posting up.”

That's a perfect fit for Randle, who does the majority of his offensive damage either at close range, where he’s a devastating finisher, or out to mid-post, where he’s highly effective with hesitation moves and the pick-and-pop. And while he doesn’t ...

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