When he is at his best, Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle can truly be a sight to behold. At 6’9″ and 250 pounds, Randle possesses the size and strength to more than hold his own in the paint, which helped him average a double-double last season. However, he also has impressive ball-handling skills for a player of his size, which he combines with his surprising speed to ignite a one-man fast break.
Despite Randle’s talent, he still had something of an up-and-down 2015-2016 season. While part of that is due to being removed from the starting lineup mid-season and eventually brought back again by then-coach Byron Scott, not all of his issues were coaching-related. One of his biggest problems was his poor court vision as he often missed open teammates when he forced defenses to collapse into the paint. This year, however, Randle appears to have rectified that issue, and point guard D’Angelo Russell told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register that it’s making a difference:
“He’s doing a great job of listening a little bit more as far as hearing other people’s opinions,” Russell said. “Last year, he was good. But he had to pick and choose when to be aggressive and be in transition when he gets the rebound. Now I feel like he’s looking for others more and finding a better balance of getting others involved, too.”
There is still plenty of work for Randle to do. We have seen him take a few threes this season, but he is going to have to dramatically improve his marksmanship before any team will respect his jumper. He also has to improve his defensive awareness, since his lack of shot-blocking ability gives him very little room for error on that end of the floor.
Still, the improvements that Randle has made are noticeable, and certainly a welcome sight for the Lakers. With this year being dedicated to developing the team’s young core, Randle’s play has been a solid step towards that goal. It’s still early, but Randle’s teammates and fans alike certainly hope he keeps it up.