Julius Randle imposed his physicality on the Toronto Raptors Monday night, collecting his fifth double-double in six games in just under 21 minutes of playing time. A surprise benching didn't drag him down, finishing the game with 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. His motor around the rim keeping possessions alive was fantastic, carving his way to second chance points throughout the night.
Just a few days ago we went into how Randle's become one of the best up-and-coming rebounding bigs in the NBA, and he's now just one rebound behind Kristaps Porzingis in total boards on the season, via Basketball-Reference.com. He leads that group of freshman in sophomore players in cleaning the glass on defense, but it was his work on the offensive boards that stood out in Toronto.
Julius ended the night with seven offensive rebounds, pushing the Raptors around in the paint all night as he enjoyed a very impressive "bench THAT" game. Here's a look at the bruising whirlwind he unleashed around the rim:
Julius Randle is a monster on the glass for the Lakers
The LA Lakers absolutely need to play Julius Randle more minutes. He was a BEAST on the boards. To read more about his big game off the bench --> http://bit.ly/1ls64kaPosted by Silver Screen and Roll on Tuesday, December 8, 2015
He pushed, shoved and tracked his way to a big night, continuing to exceed expectations on the boards this early in his career. Randle produced for the Lakers, focusing his effort on putting in extra efforts while shooting 6-of-13 from the field despite playing roughly eight minutes less than his season average. Julius took complete advantage of a Raptors team without Jonas Valanciunas all night.
Randle also had a few impressive defensive sequences that stood out in the second half. This switch onto DeMar DeRozan was a key stop in the fourth quarter and an impressive display of the kind of mobility Julius has been surprisingly capable of:
The Lakers' pick-and-roll defense would greatly benefit having a disruptive big man doing things like that. Their disorganized team defense leads to many individual mistakes, but it's easy to see how valuable a player he could develop into with that kind of talent to mold over the next few seasons. All you have to do is look at the limitations of Roy Hibbert in the pick-and-roll to see the usefulness of Randle's versatility.
Better yet, look at the footwork in this stop near the end of the third quarter as Randle repels and challenges a driving Cory Joseph out of a pick-and-roll. Joseph had steam behind him since Julius sits back to help over the top, who then eats the drive alive:
Yet he was pulled with four minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Lakers trailing by five. It's evident Randle's productivity isn't a question whether he's starting or playing off the bench. Byron Scott claimed the kinds of changes he's making are for the sake of where the team currently is, and a month ago said he's putting winning ahead of development. Pulling your incredibly engaged and effective power forward of the future is the complete opposite of trying to secure a victory in a close game.
Randle played hard in Toronto, perhaps with that same chip on his shoulder Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times wrote of during training camp, and proved he not only needs more playing time, but deserves it. It might be time reconsider decisions when even the opposing broadcast booth is questioning why Julius didn't get more playing time after pushing the Raptors around all game.