Why Julius Randle Is the Los Angeles Lakers’ Most Pivotal Player Next Season

Too much of the Los Angeles Lakers' future is veiled by mystery and chance, little of which will change during the 2014-15 NBA season.

Such is the risk the Lakers run having roped their rebuild to free agency and their ability to recruit superstars like Kevin Love and Marc Gasol during summer 2015. This upcoming campaign is more of a makeshift respite from contention and towering expectations than anything else. 

It is one last year of the Kobe Bryant Show. It is a chance to see what Carlos Boozer offers outside obscene paychecks, what Ed Davis can do with consistent playing time, what Jeremy Lin looks like trying to coexist alongside the Black Mamba. 

Next year, however, is not a window into Los Angeles' long-term direction. The Lakers will offer but a desultory glimpse into their future.

That glimpse is, of course, rookie Julius Randle, the top-five talent who fell into the Lakers' lap at No. 7 overall in this year's draft. He is one of the few Lakers—Bryant included—who figure into their lasting plans and add actual purpose to a deliberately designed year-long placeholder.


The Short-Term Solutions

There are other players to watch, additional storylines to follow. But which current Lakers really factor into the distant future?

Watching Bryant will be entertaining, not to mention incredibly informative. The Lakers still need to see what he has left and what it will take to prop open his championship window one last time. 

Steve Nash looked done last season. That the Lakers haven't used the stretch provision on him is somewhat miraculous, though financially prudent. Even if he parties like it's 2011-12 and he's in Phoenix, Nash is nothing more than a means to a money-managing end.

Boozer and Lin are basically two expiring pacts. Both could play so well they catch the Lakers' eye next summer, ...

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