Each member of the young core has impressed in different ways during this Los Angeles Lakers preseason, and for forward Julius Randle, it’s been his playmaking ability. For the second consecutive game, head coach Luke Walton singled out Randle’s ability to push the ball and playmake, something that is a crucial part of the offense Walton is looking to implement.
“His playmaking has been incredible, when he gets out and pushes the ball,” Walton said after their 112-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors. “Anytime he gets a defensive rebound, good things are going to happen. He might not always make the shot, but we’re going to give him the shot, when he gets the defensive rebound.”
Randle still has some work to do on his jump shot, but Walton’s been impressed by the amount of time Randle has dedicated to it in the gym.
“His shot has been better, but he hasn’t got a lot of opportunities to knock them down, but that’s a credit to him, because we’re fine with him shooting, but we don’t want him shooting on one pass, we want the ball moving from side to side and then eventually if it gets back and he’s open then, yeah, shoot the ball,” Walton said. “We’re still learning how to get it from side to side, and a lot of times it’s not getting back to him right now. Even with not getting him the shots that I’m sure he wants, he’s still playing the right way, and he’s playing hard.”
Randle is averaging 8.6 points (on 50 percent shooting) to go along with his 7.8 rebounds through his six preseason games, all of which have been starts. Plus, Randle is behind only D’Angelo Russell and Marcelo Huertas in assists per game, averaging 3.0 per contest.
Walton isn’t the only one commending Randle for his knack for seeing the floor. On Thursday night, Nick Young, who was a recipient of a couple of Randle’s passes in transition, said Randle looked like Magic Johnson on the fast break.
Randle’s been working at it, all summer long, watching tons of film, recognizing that when he’s gotten stops on the defensive end and pushed the ball, the game became easier.
“That’s when the game becomes fun,” Randle said after Friday’s practice. “Makes it easier for everybody, guys getting out, our guards getting out, our bigs running, makes shots easier. And, teams don’t want to get back on defense. It’s fun when we do that.”
Despite Draymond Green being a better shooter, Walton said Randle’s athleticism combined with his passing ability definitely reminds Walton of his former player.
“I think it’s a good comparison,” Walton said. “I think that could be someone you compare him to down the road.”
Green did not play for the Warriors on Saturday night, but the Lakers will have another shot at him and Golden State next week, when they both travel to Valley View Casino Center for their second to last game of the preseason.