One of the ongoing things to watch for the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been the handling of Julius Randle. His minutes have gone up and down as head coach Luke Walton has struggled to find the right combinations among a crowded frontcourt.
For the season Randle is averaging just 22.6 minutes per game, but has seen that increase to 27.8 over the last four contests when he has been the starting center. Despite some inconsistencies this season, Walton is happy with what Randle has brought the team.
“Julius has been great all year. He deserves more playing time, but we’ve got a lot of guys,” Walton said. “I’ve talked to Julius about his potential and where he should be as a player.
“If he’s not doing things to those standards, then taking him out here and there to kind of motivate him to come in and play that way, is something I have to do. He’s responded all year.”
What Walton is saying here is mostly reminiscent of what he has said previously when asked about Randle’s fluctuating minutes. And it makes sense to punish someone if they aren’t playing to their potential.
For his part, Randle has consistently maintained that he is focusing on what he can control and Walton agrees that Randle has been professional about it.
“He’s not doing himself any favors if he were to pout about it. Julius hasn’t, he’s obviously been frustrated with me at times, but he’s done a really nice job all year when he gets called on,” Walton said.
“That’s a lot of credit to him for staying ready. Whether he’s getting the minutes he thinks he deserves or not, he produces when he’s out there.”
Randle’s numbers have noticeably increased as a starter as he is averaging 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds, even after a less than stellar showing against the Thunder. The question moving forward is whether Randle brings enough defensively to maintain his starting role as his offense isn’t a question.
The Lakers have struggled to protect the rim since Brook Lopez was injured, but with him returning it will be interesting to see what decision Walton makes. One thing that Walton seems to believe is that Randle has earned more playing time whether he starts or not, so it will be worth keeping an eye on.
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