With Roster in Transition, Lakers Offer Rare Opportunity for Julius Randle

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — For all their success and accomplishments, the Los Angeles Lakers have never had an NBA Rookie of the Year.   

Julius Randle isn't a bad bet to be the first.

The Lakers drafted Randle on Thursday with the seventh overall pick—their highest draft selection in 32 years. With the rest of their roster in flux as the club sets aside long-term free-agent investments for a year from now, Randle is in for a massive opportunity right away—quite possibly as the No. 2 option next to Kobe Bryant, his childhood idol.

"I was really happy to be there at seven, because I knew it was a perfect fit for me," Randle said.

Randle's arrival is the result of a combination of traditional scouting—Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said his scouts "watched him play as closely as anybody" as Kentucky reached the NCAA title game—and an overwhelming in-person impression.

Randle worked out June 17 in the Lakers' practice gym and tore it up.

Not only did he show shooting range all the way out to three-point distance, Randle also switched on his motor when Lakers player development coach Mark Madsen started playing against him in what had been purported to be an individual workout.

"It wasn't a typical solo workout," Kupchak said.

As such, Kupchak on Thursday night cited Randle's "effort" as his primary attraction. For his part, Randle views himself as the best rebounder in the draft, and he is capable of being a physical NBA power forward right now. As far as trade possibilities with Randle go, Kupchak said: "We expect to have him in training camp."

The Lakers also got value in one sense: Randle was Rivals.com's No. 2 high school recruit a year ago behind only Andrew Wiggins, who wound up the No. 1 overall pick in this draft. Kupchak said flat-out that the Lakers don't believe complications in the healing of a broken bone ...

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