Julius Randle's career had to take a year-long pause, but his return to the Los Angeles Lakers has gone incredibly smooth. If nothing else, the fact that he's logging 28.8 minutes per game in what's essentially his rookie season has been one of the few positives of the year.
Sunday night, though, we saw perhaps the clearest example yet of a secret we've all known deep down: Julius can only go left when he's trying to finish in the paint. That's an issue defenders will ultimately exploit, and while Randle is pretty good at finding ways to finish at the rim now, over what is hopefully a long and productive career finishing with his right is a something he'll need to do.
He's creative at using his left, though, and can already strike like lightning or roll like thunder to get where he wants on the floor. That's how he's able to make up for the weak right as a pseudo-rookie just a dozen or so games into his career, which has been great to watch so far. Just look at the way he houses Kenneth Faried on this baseline move:
When's the last time a Laker did anything resembling that?
Still, going left every single time he drives just won't do if wants to be an elite threat. When he went to his right against the Detroit Pistons, and missed this badly... :
... it felt important to at least point out this is another major area he'll need to work on early in his career. His ability to score at the rim is going to be a huge part of what he brings to the table on offense. 65.7 percent of his attempts are coming around the basket, but he's converting on just 47.8 percent on those attempts:
This is an area of his game that we should absolutely keep an eye on. Working on his mid-range is one thing, but becoming more comfortable finishing with his off-hand might rank just as important considering how much of his offense is at the rim. That he has to find ways to get a shot off with his left hand every time he attacks is a limitation. There's just not always going to be a way to do it, which turns into wild attempts that could have been simple right-handed layups:
But, as these things go so early in the process, there's a very clear bright side. Randle's doing a great job of getting to the rim, he's handling his minute load well by everything we've seen from his energy on the floor, and he adds some rebounding and playmaking to a team starved for talent. He's acknowledged finishing with his right is a part of his game he needs to develop in the past, so for now it's just another detail to take note of as we watch the Lakers youth accumulate playing time.