As the final buzzer sounded after LA's pre-season victory against Denver, one of the main focuses of the Lakers' fan-base was the solid debut of Julius Randle. The result of this game will be quickly forgotten, but the overall impact that Randle made during his NBA debut will stick in the minds of Lakers fans as we close in on the regular season.
One result was the discussion about Randle overtaking Carlos Boozer as the Lakers starting power forward. While that switch is probably not imminent, the combination of Randle's potential, Boozer's uncertain Lakers future and the unlikelihood of the team being in the playoff hunt, could make for an intriguing situation for Byron Scott as the season wears on.
Though the team faced the same inevitability in the prior season, they didn't have the same level of young, high-potential talent as they currently have. Besides Randle, the Lakers have other players that fit into this category, including forward Ed Davis and rookie guard Jordan Clarkson. Though that duo might not have the same potential as Randle, they're still young players who could be solid fixtures on this team in the future.
When you look at how the Lakers will be able to implement those players into the rotation, you have to remember that this organization has never really been in this situation in the past. While they've had young, high-upside talent (Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum during their rookie seasons), they've never been in the situation where they're able to have that young talent without having to focus on the playoffs.
In regards to how the Lakers will be able to successfully implement the young talent into the team's rotation, you're going to have to examine it player-by-player.
Of course, the most important player in this discussion would be Julius Randle, who would be the team's first top-10 selection since James Worthy was picked 1st overall during the '82 Draft. Even though Carlos Boozer will likely open the season as the team's starting power forward, it would seem inevitable for Randle to ultimately make the move to the starting lineup.
When that move occurs, Randle will have the opportunity to play alongside either Jordan Hill or Ed Davis. While we have yet to really see the pairing in action yet, the possibilities of Hill and Randle in the same front-court is intriguing. Both Hill and Randle are known for their high-energy play, giving a lot of effort on a possession-by-possession basis. That particular trait is showcased by how they've continued to be absolute menaces on the offensive boards. During his lone season with Kentucky, Randle exhibited that trait by averaging a very impressive 3.6 offensive rebounds per game.
He may be overshadowed by Jordan Hill, but Ed Davis should have an opportunity he hasn't previously had to show off, thanks in part to the limited depth at the center position. As mentioned in my previous piece on him, Davis has really shown himself to be a fully-tuned player that can be effective on both ends of the ball.
As the Lakers enter a potential train-wreck season, Ed Davis could prove to be one of the team's more valuable assets. While Hill will probably be able to hold onto his role as starting center, Davis definitely has the skill-set to become an effective, and imperative, part of the team's future.
Speaking of the future, former Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson could be in a position where he'll be asked to play a significant role in the Lakers back-court. With the uncertainty surrounding Nash's ability to stay healthy during his final season, Clarkson will likely be looked at as the team's reserve point guard behind Jeremy Lin. Even though the jury is still out on Clarkson's ability to be a consistent offensive player, his particular skill-set could make him into a solid reserve. Whenever the Lakers are in a defensive slump, Clarkson could be looked at to utilize his knack for getting to the rim to help open up a struggling Lakers offense. In that role, Clarkson would be able to improve his offensive and defensive flaws without being asked to carry much of the team's offensive load.
As the Lakers continue their rebuilding process, this trio will be looked at to play an important part during that stretch. Whether it would be Clarkson or Davis being looked at to help lead the bench or Randle's potential role as one of the team leaders, how Byron Scott and the rest of his staff is able to utilize and grow this core is going to be vital for the future of the Lakers organization.