Many people have been excited about Julius Randle’s play this season. The Los Angeles Lakers forward have shown flashes of greatness on both sides of the ball. Although the offseason wasn’t filled with pure optimism for Randle, there were areas that needed to improve on if he wanted to be seen as an elite player.
A major concern coming into this season was Randle’s defense. Last season, the Lakers had a defensive rating, an advanced metric that measures how many points opposing teams scores per 100 possessions, of 113.0 with Randle on the court and so far this season it has dropped to 108.1.
Although a defensive rating of 108.1 is still not ideal, it still shows his improvement. Also, Randle has shown he can deliver defensively when switching on to guards and has come up with key blocks against the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden State Warriors. Luke Walton seems to be impressed with Randle’s growth on defense and likes his potential on that side of the ball, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke’s impressed w/ Randle’s growth defensively: “He can be an absolute elite defender in this league w/ his size, strength & quickness."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 7, 2016
Many people have tried to compare Randle to Draymond Green, but some experts have pointed to Randle’s lack of defense to kill these comparisons. Randle has been on a mission to prove people wrong this season by being a menace on both sides of the ball. Green has given high praise to Randle, via Mark Medina of OC Register:
“With the God-given gifts he has, he has the potential to be better. I’ll continue to grow. I’ll never stop working and I’ll continue to get better. But what is he, 21? That’s a lot of time to continue to grow.”
Just like Green, Randle is asked to guard everyone on the floor; meaning having to be versatile enough to defend bigger players and quick enough to keep up with guards when switching on the pick and roll. Randle has not been perfect but has shown enough improvement to make us think that he might just be able to be a quality defender in the NBA.