Despite getting into the best shape of his life over the summer, Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle hasn’t seen much of an increase in playing time or statistical output to begin the 2017-18 NBA season.
Not only did Randle not get the starting nod after being called among the Lakers’ first five for most of the past two seasons, but he’s seen his playing time dwindle from 28.8 minutes per game last year to 15 over the first two contests this season.
Randle hasn’t played incredibly well to begin his latest campaign either despite coming off of a strong preseason stretch. In the Lakers’ first two games, Randle has averaged 8.5 points and 3.5 rebounds while hardly serving as the automatic double-double he appeared to be over the last several seasons and getting an earful from his head coach in the team’s season opener.
When asked by Lakers Nation reporter Trevor Lane about what he could do to earn more playing time, Randle kept his answer simple:
Randle on what he needs to do to get more minutes: “It’s not my decision.” He did say he’s happy to get a team win regardless of who plays
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) October 21, 2017
While Randle isn’t technically wrong (it’s up to Luke Walton which players play and how many minutes they get) there is probably at least one thing he could do to entice the coaching staff to give him a bit more run: play better on defense.
While defensive rating two games into the season certainly is a catch-all stat, it does seem at least somewhat reflective of his play on that end that the Lakers have given up 122.3 points per 100 possesions while Randle is on the floor, the worst rate of any player to play more than 10 minutes in both games.
Randle won’t become a shutdown defender overnight. However, if he could give a bit more effort and make slightly better decisions on that end as the Lakers’ undersized center, he’d likely be a more enticing rotation option for Walton and the coaching staff, not to mention a far more appealing option for both the Lakers and the rest of the NBA when he enters restricted free agency this summer.