Julius Randle was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Last year Randle started to show why the Lakers took him so high. Randle’s career so far has not been easy, as he broke his leg in his first NBA game, causing him to miss the whole 2014 season. Since that injury, Randle has steadily improved in his last two seasons in the NBA. Last year he averaged a career high 13.2 points per game while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. He significantly improved after shooting 42.9 percent the year before. As the Lakers rebuild, Randle is a key piece because of his ability to shoot the ball and rebound. Randle looks like a different player this offseason, as his teammates have been marveling about the big man in preseason.
In Randle’s young NBA career, he has not been known as a big man that can stretch the floor. In his first two full years in the league, Randle has never shoot better than 27.8 percent from three point range. Adding a three point shot to his game would make him even more dangerous, and it appears he’s done just that this offseason.
The Lakers motivated Randle in regards to his extension. The Lakers have made it clear that they want to maintain their cap space so they can sign high profile free agents, which means Randle’s extension may not come as soon as he likes. Randle has used that as motivation, as he’s come to camp both stronger and faster. Teammates have raved about Randle. Teammate Brandon Ingram said, “To get even stronger than he already was, he is coming in the same hours that I am here”. The Lakers management could not be happier, as they challenged the young players on this roster to come to camp in shape and make their case on why their future should be with the Lakers.
The Lakers have the beginning of an impressive young core. They’re hoping players such as Randle, Brandon Ingram, and Larry Nance Jr. can continue to become productive NBA players. They also figure to have high draft picks and plenty of cap space to sign impact players. Randle, however is essential to the Lakers success. If he can continue to develop and improve his three point shot, then the Lakers will have a dynamic offensive forward that plays above average defense.
Randle has not had an easy path in the NBA, but he does not use that as an excuse. He has a drive to be the best in the league, and both his teammates and coaches see that. On a rebuilding team, Randle must be prepared to give it his all every night, as until the Lakers become contenders again, they’ll be evaluating their players closer than ever. If Randle has proven anything in his young NBA career, it’s that overcoming obstacles does not faze him. The league should be prepared for Randle this season, because he seems more driven than ever.