After an eye-popping start to his sophomore season, Julius Randle stagnated a bit. His ability to finish around the rim seemed to desert him, and his jumper was finding everywhere but the bottom of the net. He was still rebounding, but his scoring efficiency still left a lot to be desired.
Randle's rebounding has still been there over the last three Lakers games (grabbing 33.3% of all opponent's misses while on the floor), but his scoring efficiency has skyrocketed. Randle's 46.4% true shooting percentage for the entire season ranks 11th on the Lakers, but in the team's last three games Randle has posted a TS% of 59.4%, a 13% increase and third on the team over that short span (second if you don't count Ryan Kelly, who played just 5 minutes in one of those three contests).
Randle was even better against the Clippers, posting a TS% of 64..8% on his way to a career-high 23 points, and in his mind the key to his success was simple.
"I just let it come to me, I didn't force anything, took the shots that were available," Randle said after the game. "[I am] just trying to stay extremely confident in [my jump shot]... Finding my pace, when and when not to take it. Sometimes I settle too much, sometimes I don't take it enough, so just trying to find that balance and still be aggressive and attack."
Against the Lakers' cross-hall rivals, Randle found that mix, going to the basket without hesitation directly after a catch:
Or punishing the Clippers with his noticeably more confident looking jumper when they backed off of him due to the threat of the drive:
Randle also had 14 rebounds against the Clippers, and used his tireless board-work to augment his scoring:
However, the night wasn't all positives for Randle. While his gaudy 23 point, 14 rebound does jump off the screen when looking at a box score, so did his contributions to one issue that killed the Lakers on Friday night: turnovers. Randle had 6 of the Lakers 17 giveaways against the Clippers, and he wasn't willing to just blame it on being a young team.
"We have to learn from it, there were passes there that I tried to make that weren't there," Randle said, blaming his turnovers on "sometimes going in a hurry, going too fast."
The tape backed up Randle's self assessment. The downside of Randle's forays to the rim is that when he finds it cut off or runs into trouble, he is prone to trying to rush passes through angles that either aren't there anymore or never were:
Or even just losing the ball entirely when he gets too out of control:
Lakers head coach Byron Scott sounded confident Randle will be able to correct these issues.
"With experience and playing time, and getting to know this league a little bit better those things will come down," Scott said after the game. "So I'm not so worried about that. I loved his aggressiveness, and when I asked the guys in [the locker room] he was the first one to yell out "turnovers." So he knows that [it's an issue]. It's just a matter of trying to take better care of the ball the next time we play."
Randle has turned the ball over on 12% of his possessions this season, a high number but not an unexpected one. Giveaways are part of the territory for a young forward talented enough to put the ball on the floor to make plays for himself and others, while young enough to not know which are the right plays to make all of the time.
However, if Randle can cut back just a bit on coughing up the ball while continuing to rebound and score close to as efficiently as he has in recent games, the Lakers are going to have the exact type of play-making four that is becoming so valued league wide, already on their roster.
All stats per NBA.com. All quotes transcribed via Time Warner Cable Sportsnet. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.