With the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Julius Randle and officially started their rebuilding process.
During the worst stretch in franchise history, Randle suffered a season-ending injury in his NBA debut but was able to come back and improve each and every season. After a career-best fourth season where Randle averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds, there was hope he would re-sign with the Lakers even after signing LeBron James.
As Randle prepares for the 2018-19 NBA season with the New Orleans Pelicans, he reflected on what was his final season in Los Angeles, via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“It was my hardest [season] by far in my life,” Randle said. “Everything was bothering me from the basketball standpoint. I felt like there were issues that were out of your control. I am a person that likes to control the narrative. … I just had to grow up. I can’t worry about things I can’t control and let it affect my happiness.”
After Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka challenged Randle to improve physically, he came into the 2017-18 season in the best shape of his young career. However, Randle was not immediately rewarded for his efforts as he did not start for head coach Luke Walton and played limited minutes as Brook Lopez’s backup.
As Randle has established himself, the reality is there were a lot of growing pains during his time with the Lakers. With the Lakers beginning a new era with James, Randle has an opportunity to play with Anthony Davis in what will be an extremely talented frontcourt for the Pelicans.