The Los Angeles Lakers’ horrible defense has been credited by the team to communication issues, and head coach Luke Walton has previously acknowledged the team needs a vocal leader.
Enter third-year power forward Julius Randle, ready to step into the void.
“I think I can be more vocal, especially in crucial times when our team has to lock in,” Randle told Mark Medina of the Orange County Register after the Lakers’ sixth straight loss. “I want to be vocal and bring even more energy for the team.”
Randle might not be a lockdown defender, but he has been a vocal leader for Los Angeles. He can constantly be seen communicating with his teammates both on the floor and from the bench, and he also has displayed the type of fight most players want to see from their leader.
Randle’s gleeful back-and-forth’s with other players led to an argument between he and Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins about a month ago, but Randle told Michael Lee of the Vertical he isn’t scared of possible repercussions for his physical play:
“I don’t back down from anybody,” Randle, 22, told The Vertical about his reaction to what Cousins called “some friendly UK love” last month. “Cous is my boy, though. But in the heat of the battle, I don’t care who it is. From night to night, I’m going to battle.”
Randle has certainly battled. He has been impressive this season, showing off newfound playmaking skills in Luke Walton’s offense while averaging 13.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game this season.
Just as important as those average, however, is Randle’s ability to fill the leadership void for the young Lakers. This team needs personalities to develop around each other, and having Randle evolve into the fiery heart of the team to keep the rest of the roster competitive would be a boon for Los Angeles.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.