Julius Randle’s return from a hip pointer injury certainly made head coach Luke Walton happy. Randle was excellent as well, collecting a double-double in each of the first two games including a 13 point, 20 rebound night in Chicago.
In the last two games however, Randle has struggled, averaging just seven points and seven rebounds while also dealing with foul issues.
An interesting moment took place in Saturday’s game against the Grizzlies as Walton subbed Randle out early in the third quarter. Randle didn’t seem too happy at being taken out, but he and Walton had a conversation on the sideline before Randle went to the bench.
After the game, Walton called it a teaching moment, and further expounded on what he expects from Randle on Spectrum SportsNet via Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) December 4, 2016
Before the season, Randle was one of the people who Walton pointed to as potentially being a leader on this team and he has not moved off of that point. Randle’s excellent start to the season has raised expectations and he will need to meet them.
Walton has struck a balance of being able to motivate and push his players without being overly critical of them. Because of that, all of the Lakers have bought into Walton’s system and don’t want to let him down.
With all of the injuries hurting the Lakers, Randle is primed to take a step up and lead this team and Walton wants that for him. His combination of speed, strength, and playmaking has been a difficult matchup for teams all season and Walton wants Randle to use those things to the best of his ability.