This season has been far and away the best in the short career of Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle. He has thrived since being put back in the starting lineup and has been consistently one of the team’s best players.
One area where Randle has made some serious strides is on the defensive end. While his numbers don’t necessarily show it, Randle has been more consistently engaged on that end of the floor and it is evident anytime he’s on the floor.
This is at least somewhat due to a decision made by Randle himself as he told Kevin Ding of Lakers.com that he truly began taking pride in both his individual and team’s performance on defense:
“This year I really started to take a pride in my team playing well defensively,” he said. “And then individually taking a challenge on being able to stop guys or get big stops down the stretch. I really have taken a pride in that. I hate for teams to score or for somebody to score on me.”
The Lakers as a whole have made a huge leap defensively. They currently rank 13th in defensive rating after being dead last or near the bottom in nearly every major defensive category last season.
Randle has been a major part of that with his ability to switch out on guards on the perimeter. Having the strength to bang down low with just about anyone, while also possessing the quickness to stay with guards is something very few bigs can do.
In the end, however, all of the physical tools mean nothing if a player doesn’t have the mindset of getting stops. Randle has clearly changed his and it has led to a positive change for both himself and his team.
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