Julius Randle's taken a hold of the power forward position, getting straight to business in the Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup. Randle's been the most consistent young player on the roster, showing that his talent is ready to translate to the NBA. The year away required patience, but what we've seen on the other side has been worth the wait.
Randle's been the kind of explosive, dynamic player scouts projected him to be, now looking confident as he logs more NBA minutes. He's been a bulldozer around the paint, a charging bull in transition, and a surprisingly active and engaged defender. D'Angelo Russell will need time to adjust as he gets his first season under his belt, but Randle looks prepared to contribute on a nightly basis after being forced to miss his rookie season.
It's important for the Lakers and Julius to know what areas of the court they can set him up for scoring opportunities if he's going to log heavy minutes. His mid-range jumper is clearly a work in progress, but he's been able to make up for that and score effectively because of his great mechanics. Randle's been attacking the rim relentlessly through preseason; an impressive display from a 20 year old pseudo-rookie.
Julius already makes strong moves in the post and can grind against NBA size. Having the strength for this move against Rudy Gay inside is an impressive example of what he's already capable of:
Right now Randle is limited to scoring inside, but he's proven effective at it. It's no exaggeration to say that all of his scoring has come from points in the paint or free-throws, but that's been a good thing for the Lakers. He's missed just 12 of his 38 attempts at the rim through preseason, converting his opportunities in close:
It's clearly not just about giving him the ball in the low-post to soak up possessions, either. He's finding his way to the rim in a variety of ways, becoming a versatile scorer when he's on the floor. Dump it off to Randle on the perimeter against an overmatched defender and he can strike like lightning:
Or maybe we'll be talking about his "patented" in-the-lane jumper in a few years if he refines this move he's been comfortable going to:
Randle sustains his scoring output by supplementing his limited range with his active motor. He's cleaning up second-chance points (3.8 per game), fast break points (2) and points off of turnovers (3.6) in bunches, using his athleticism and nose for the rim to get the Lakers easy points on the fly. Julius might be forced to score inside, but he has the tools to take on that challenge. That he's doing so successfully already, while providing some eye-popping highlights along the way, has been a welcome development. He's had no problem creating for himself or his teammates, making it easy to keep him on the floor.
Byron Scott gleaned that Brandon Bass would compete with Randle for the starting position during Summer League, but that door looks all but shut after a very impressive preseason. Julius looks comfortable and confident playing with the starting lineup, productive in every column. He's already finding his niche grinding his points from in the paint, stampeding ahead as he makes up for lost time.